Gardeners impress me. Even more so since realizing that it is a struggle for me to even keep house plants alive. This is because just as we need self-nurture, these little earth beings require daily attention, and some people are so instinctive in their nurture of plants that they make it seem effortless. In contrast, I have bought plants, tried to keep them alive, failed and mourned with a large side-helping of plant-mother-guilt.
More recently, knowing that if I couldn’t spend more time in nature I would need to bring more nature inside, I have started to observe the activity of the plant nurturer in her natural environment. My friend Sorrel is one such talent. She owns a yoga studio that looks and feels the way a home would look if only we knew how to do it. Well, I don’t know how to do it, so I have been making a quiet study of her behavior over the past few months since the studio opened, as of a rare and exotic bird.
How Does Her Garden Grow?
She moves things around a lot. This is instinctive but not arbitrary. It has the effect that everything seems happy and alive. Nothing beautiful goes unnoticed or un-nurtured. She checks each plant to see if it requires attention each day. She prunes where needed, moves the plants in and out of the sun and brings fresh flowers each week. She never leaves dead flowers sitting in the space, but cultivates even these, removing the dead ones, prolonging the lives of the ones that remain. If a plant dies, she expresses sadness, and then lets it go. She would never leave it there guiltily as a reminder of human failure.
My study gave me so much hope for myself that I gradually built up a collection of indoor plants and so far, have not killed many. I listen to their cries for water and a change in position and give them daily attention.
There is one foliage plant that I was given about 7 years ago which has, against all odds, survived my lack of green-knowledge. I call it ‘Little Guru’. Each week I was saddened as another leaf grew brown and crispy and fell off. However my attitude was changed when I travelled to Belize on retreat and spent some time in the jungle.
In the jungle every plant has some brown leaves ready to be hacked off by a guide’s machete. Our guide Diego laughed out loud when I expressed sadness that a branch needed to be hacked off a tree! He couldn’t understand it. “It’s dead!” he exclaimed and that was the end of it. Decay and death are a part of life. The trees and plants know this.
Give Up to Get Greater
Bringing this revelation home with me I was able to acknowledge that each one of us has to let things go as time passes by. So why do we struggle so much to let go of what no longer serves us? Allowing die-off and discarding in our lives leaves space and energy for new growth. It is a necessary part of self-nurture.
Giving something up to make way for something immeasurably greater, (thanks Burgs), is one of the great cycles of life. How could I miss it? How could I pile guilt on myself and not realize that this little tree in my home did not survive because I took care of it well (I didn’t) it survived because it had the plan to teach me something about nurturing it, myself and others. It had to send me to the jungle to get through to me.
Great Gaia, Mother Earth has taught me from the heart something I only understood in theory. My tiny tree shouts:
“DO YOU UNDERSTAND NOW?!”
Well, finally, I think I do.
P.S. If you are ready to have this conversation with yourself and work out what needs to be discarded for you to thrive in your busy life, check out our Nourish & Restore: Elemental Goddess Retreat this December. Early Bird prices are ending soon so now is the time to book!