Tending the Garden

Posted by on March 12, 2009 in Acceptance, faith, Gender roles, Mormon Life | 5 comments

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by Alisa

I always thought I didn’t have the nurturing spirit so many Mormon women seem to have. I’m sort of OK with children—not mesmerized or made giddy by them, but not repelled by them either. However, this ambivalence has definite ramifications. As a wife without children, I cringe when I hear a lesson about nurturing or motherhood, as they seem to emphasize the differences I feel between me and so many other women.

It’s only recently that I’ve discovered my own way of living up to my nature as a nurturer in other ways. After I moved into my current home, I let two summers go by without engaging in the massive amount of yard work that needed to be done (it had been 15 years since the yard had any real attention). Finally last year, the gardening spirit took hold. I visited online and local nurseries regularly. I learned the names of dozens of plants, and the conditions that will make them thrive. My husband and I ripped out the old weeds and planted five new large perennial gardens. And I found that I loved nurturing my yard, investing in it, watching over it daily, and viewing the progress of little growing things that were only visible to my observant eye.

It is amazing to me what gardening did to transform my spirituality. The metaphors and parables in the scriptures began to come alive in me as I invested so much time, sweat, and muscle into making my world come alive. There were results that were immediate and ones that tried my patience. I’ve learned that sometimes I reap what I sow. Other times, I get something much better, a small effort transformed into a high return. Despite some of my best efforts, sometimes it doesn’t work out at all. And I learned about faith. Winter is a hard time for me, but when I planted bulbs the last weekend of October, I had faith that these bulbs would bring me the good news of spring as soon as it was coming. It’s like waiting for the sun to shine as you step into your darkest hour.

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Even though my yard is still dusted with snow, these crocuses have come up as a sign that warmer, brighter days are ahead – days where I can turn my attention back to my garden, which in turn nurtures my own soul.

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5 Comments

  1. Alisa, this is beautiful! I love that you’ve found in gardening a talent for nurturing. And I also love your thoughts on how gardening has enhanced your spirituality. If you ever give a lesson or talk in church, I hope you find a way to work these thoughts in.

    I want to be a better nurturer to my plants, but I’m lazy, and somehow it always seems to be a last priority. But maybe this spring, I’ll be better…

  2. I love this, Alisa! What a great reminder that nurturing extends beyond that of children.

    About the only meditation I do is when I’m weeding in my garden. For some reason, that’s where I can focus best.

  3. Alisa,
    Thanks for this powerful and beautiful post.
    I love the image of brighter days ahead.
    I also especially love tulips! I miss them here in Arizona.

  4. My garden is where I feel closest to the divine, which makes me wonder sometimes if I’m a smidge pagan/druid. I can contemplate the petals of a flower all afternoon and never tire of the natural music I hear as I sit among plants in the sunshine.

  5. i always loved the crocuses when i lived in a place with a snowy winter. they were usually the earliest sign of spring returning. and, much as i love winter and a good snowstorm, by march i crave sunshine and blue skies and beautiful flowers.

    i love the value nurturing a garden has in itself. but i also think it has value beyond itself, too. my mother’s garden has always been a source of peace for me; her nurturing of her beautiful roses and plants has transformed into nurturing of her family.

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