‘Garden Bathing’ in Harmony with the ‘Way of Things’

‘Garden Bathing’ in Harmony with the ‘Way of Things’

A reflection on practice by Marcia Rose

My yearly endeavor of Spring, Summer & Fall gardening was not possible last year.  I was very sick… sick enough to be in hospital for a month & then sent home in hospice. As it all evolved, I ‘graduated from hospice above ground, which is very unusual,” as one of my doctors said. This year, my 84th, I am back to growing much of my food & tending the extensive flower gardens that grace this piece of northern New Mexico ground I have the honor of living on.

As I go about the daily process of carefully, kindly & mindfully tending & harvesting vegetables & flowers, I intimately touch into the clear mirror of the ‘way of things.’  I am reminded that planting, tending & harvesting plants is an act & process of unconditional love, calling for me to be in an ongoing relationship to life & in harmony with this ‘way of things.’

As I work, I mindfully observe the constant & never-ending changes of a tomato plant… from seed to plant to fruit & back to seed, acknowledging that some seeds never develop into form. I appreciate the variation of each rose blossom in response to the conditions that it is blooming in… and the daffodil’s brief flowering & quick withering. I see & absorb the strong response of each plant to rainfall, or a plant’s response to not receiving the water it needs.

I am aware of intimately touching into the understanding that not only does each & every plant in the garden go through the process of birth, change & perishing… every animate & inanimate form of life displays & goes through this inevitable process. As each of us life forms move through this totally natural process, we are also in the midst of an intimate & intricate interdependent relationship with all other life forms, both near & far. My teacher, the garden, clearly displays & reflects this. I recognize again & again that this is also my human reality, if I’m willing to let this truth in.

“The entire cosmos is a cooperative. The sun, the moon & the stars live together as a cooperative. The same is true for humans & animals, trees & soil. Our bodily parts function as a cooperative. When we realize that the world is a mutual interdependent, cooperative enterprise, then we can build a noble, even heavenly environment.” —Buddhadassa Bhikku

I clearly note my joy & appreciation of the bright yellow color & exquisite form of a daffodil, and then recognize within days that it’s on its way out. I recall my own experience a year ago – on the verge of my own possible death – of a clear & deep feeling of letting go… not giving up… but just simply letting go because it appeared to be time for this. There was also a clear deep knowing & acknowledgment that trying to cling on would produce contraction & be painful. Flowers ‘know’ intrinsically when this time arrives. Most of us humans need to learn this through years of practice.

Today I sat outside in the rain under the roof of the small porch behind my house… openhearted, in love & fully present to all that was visibly being rained on, and to the many birds that were eating, singing & appeared in their own way to be enjoying the gentle rain that was moisturizing everything. Today was an experience of ‘garden bathing’ at its best… feeling intrinsically deeply grateful for & joyfully intertwined in the amazing abundance of life forms appearing all around me.

Bathing in the way of things’ can bring us a sense of harmony & deep ease when we are truly able to let it all in. 

Spring morning crickets
singing their heart out
and into mine.

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