Gardening as a Spiritual Practice

This last week our family celebrated two big milestones. July 10th was the four year anniversary of us living in our Lincoln house. And two days later, July 12th, we celebrated the closing papers on the sale of that house.

This was the house we bought when Reece was on his way. Our two-story five bedroom house where we erected a fence for our family dog and hosted Reece’s gender reveal party is now owned by a new family. Four years of memories in that house came with us to this new place. Our family dog and our rainbow flock did not. The person whose arrival prompted the purchase of that house also isn’t here. Not a day goes by that his name isn’t on my heart: my little Reecey Piecey. When he died, I went to work outside.

I worked tirelessly in the garden beds at that house. Weeding, moving rocks, ripping out landscape cloth, digging holes. Reigning in the overgrowth, the damaging ivy, and hacking away at the rotting stump was a crucial part of my healing. I molded that space for the better. The physical pain and exhaustion of gardening work gave my body a location for my emotional pain. I was a nurturer, but my infant was dead.

I turned weeds over to native flowers, invited the bugs and then the nesting birds into my space. I found friends who generously gave me plants I used to color my world. My circle of gardening friends continues to expand as we learn from each other and I work to color the new house. I was saved by the dirt at that Lincoln house. The trees and the skyline, the sunsets, all opportunities to rest under Heaven. Or scream into my hands. Or look up at the sky crying silently, and hope he was watching me, my littlest boy.

My time spent outside in the dirt is nothing short of a spiritual discipline. Patience, dedication, and hope are fundamental principles for gardening. I talked to my rainbow flock and now with them rehomed, I talk to my yard birds and the one pesky rabbit. Heaven brings me animals to remind me I am a mere speck on the planet teeming with life. I may even be so bold as to say my baby sends them to tell me I am not alone. I miss my baby every day. You can be in nature by yourself and still not alone. Just ask that pesky rabbit who has no fear of me.

This new house is a desert landscape of grass. Not a single garden bed. This forces me to plan ahead and be very intentional. Focused and intentional are my power right now. Having undergone so many changes in a short time, staying focused is fundamental to my sanity. In the very first flower bed, the boys and I sprinkled the cremains of our dog into the soil and said one last, “Good boy, Tucker.”

Slowly, I know I will transform this space we now call home into a nature-focused spiritual space. And I get to pick out every last little bit of color here.

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