PATIENCE – The Dharma of an Early Fall Garden
A reflection on practice by Marcia Rose
Marcia returns to her beloved garden…
What is the Dharma of my early fall garden? Lately I’ve asked myself and the garden this question many times over. Each morning and early evening, as I slowly walk through and diligently work a bit in the garden, with my returning energy, stamina, deep care and interest I also mindfully observe the abundance of the growing and constantly changing greenery, vegetables, blossoms and flowers. This riotous multicolored display spreading through my garden here in northern New Mexico offers the perfect laboratory for practice, right in the midst of ‘the way of all things’.
One recent morning, with deep joy I behold a bursting pink and white ‘peace’ rose bud. A few days later the flower has opened fully and is already wilting and changing color around the edges. I notice a subtle tug in my heart, and then the relaxed receptivity of ‘Yes, and this too just does what comes naturally to all of us.’
On a slow evening walk through the garden, on my own without the aid of a ‘walking device’, I clearly see that there are two green strawberries and the zucchini squash is only a quarter inch larger than the other day. I notice a momentary and very subtle contraction in the heart and mind… quickly followed by the internal Dharma wisdom saying, “Patience, all happens in good time”. The apples are turning red, but still too small to pick. “Should I pick apples for dessert and snacks? No, not yet. They need more time to grow”. Sweet peas are exquisitely ready and waiting… a clear “yes for dinner” comes through this time.
A primary Dharma lesson harvested each day from this garden is ‘patience’. Repeatedly I learn that patience blossoms in a heart and mind that are rooted in quietude, serenity, openness, care and peace. I and all the growing things in the garden are by nature ‘hastening slowly,’ and I understand more deeply the words ‘patience is the highest form of devotion’.
I imbibe and digest these garden Dharma lessons… into my meditation practice, my slowly healing body, and out into my relationship with the larger and often challenging current world we live in.
The Buddha used the word ‘forbearance’ as a description of patience… meaning a heart and mind rooted in the qualities of receptivity, unconditional acceptance and softness. This ‘forbearance’ allows us to open to and be fully present in each moment with respect, dignity, humility and gratitude. We patiently honor the moment… no matter what we are facing in our mind, heart and body… no matter what’s coming to us from the world around us. My early fall garden Dharma practice helps me come to know in a deeply experiential way the great advantage of this ‘forbearance’. It offers great benefit for the whole of our life, as well as great benefit in relationship to our meditation practice, as the heart/mind develops towards deeper and more mature concentration, kindness, gratitude and wisdom.
As we practice and live more patiently, as we become more ‘still and wide’ while at the same time determined and diligent in and with our practice, it is inevitable that we will experience an increase of calm, tranquility, joy, peace, fearlessness and understanding/wisdom within our practice and within our life as a whole. It’s inevitable that there will be a continued blossoming of kind-heartedness and a growing ability to live a compassionate and beneficial life.
As I experience the slow healing of my body – after 2 months of ‘knock, knock, knocking at heaven’s door’ followed by 2 ½ months of gradually improving levels of functioning – I bring fresh appreciation to all the magnificent wonders of this early fall garden, and my heart/mind is filled with boundless patience and gratitude for the nature and the way of all things.
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