Tag Archive | growth

El Camino

foxgloveRecently I went to the movies to watch “Walking the Camino”. It was the penultimate screening and we had the theatre almost entirely to ourselves. This is how I like it, the dark, the quietening of the breath and the unfolding of the story. As I listened to the stories of the half dozen people (out of many) who were sharing their experience, I was waiting to feel the yearning rise up within me to follow in their footsteps. The idea of travelling light; letting go and confronting change on a daily basis all hold much allure. The transformative experiences abounded and were shared with depth and humility.

Searches for the meaning of life, a new better way to be sat alongside the yearning to connect. One young woman bought her small son and her brother. Her dream; that her brother would grow to understand her Christian values and they would become closer. Loss was also present in the stories of those who had died and were still being grieved. All of the stories continued to unfold along with the road and the vista beckoning the pilgrim onward.

The stories were heart warming. Yet, throughout the whole movie the most powerful player was Nature herself.  In sun and rain the natural world stood out; the bedewed blades of grass; leaves lime green in their newness. Heather, in thick rich banks adorned the roadside,    urging me to reach out and run my hands through it.

I know I would never survive the walk; the shared sleeping dormitories alone would be the end of me. I am a light sleeper and often only manage 4-5 hours a night – in the quietest of spaces. I am not physically able to walk the 790kms, my body would teach me a lesson in humility never to be forgotten. Such beauty along the Way, I would love to experience that; I’d take the chance to immerse myself in it wherever it appeared.

It was almost at the end of the movie; the young women had fallen out with her brother. He had misbehaved – his Pan-ness had offended her values. He wasn’t taking it at all seriously and so she drove him away, thereby negating her original desire for connection.  Poor thing, she was trying so hard to be a good/godly pilgrim. He didn’t seem concerned at all. It seemed to me that he was inherently panentheistic and she was – a fundamentalist!

His lightness of spirit captured me and spoke to the mood that had overtaken me as I drank in the scenery. Right then the camera followed the curving stem of a foxglove, honouring each individual flower. From somewhere deep inside me powerful emotion welled up; the thought “I bow before you” sprang into my mind and my heart opened. For me, all the joy of the Camino was represented in that one sinuous curve.

I know that I walk my own inner Camino every day. The Nature mystic in me takes me on many varied and challenging paths. I hope I walk them in humility; staying connected to all the glory of the natural world, grounding myself in Her.

There is always a gift along the road. A dappled glade, a glorious sunset, a field of wheat moving in a gentle breeze. All these expressions of the Divine enliven me and fill me up so that, just like a pilgrim who reaches Finisterre I am filled with joy and deep peace.

Gloriously Ruffled Radicchio

radicchioI’ve been hearing people saying lately that Spring has arrived, as if it is a date on the calendar. Well, actually in New Zealand we do describe September 1 as the first day of Spring. Herein lies the truth, it’s the beginning of the process of unfolding and releasing the new emergent energy; it happens slowly, one day at a time. In order to notice the changes I am daily in communion with the parts of my garden that express ‘Springness’. I check the plum blossom and the foliage buds on my oak trees. In my vege garden I check the temperature of the soil. It’s still too wet and cold to plant Spring veges. I know this because my brassicas look so fine; they’re loudly expressing that Winter hasn’t fully released its grip. Which is ok too; greens are good for us & we need to eat plenty – or so I tell myself when I experience resistance to the idea. Fortunately as I stand surveying their healthy vitality I’m nourished by the beauty & elegance of the red cabbages and radicchio. Food for the soul is every bit as important. This radiant show helps remind me that the slow letting go of Winter into the quickening of Spring is inevitable and soon a different kind of expression will take the place of my gloriously ruffled radicchio. Even as I write the first plum blossoms are welcoming bees as they feverishly collect pollen to keep the hives healthy in preparation for a new seasons honey making. So much promise yet to be fulfilled.

Cheeky Wisdom.

Prunella vulgarisNow that we’ve had some sunny days I’ve been seduced out into the garden to feel the warm sun on my skin and seek for signs of Spring.  Sure enough, there they were, tiny white bumps of blossom just about to burst forth; the scent of grape hyacinths, so big considering the tiny bells it emanated from and the distinctive call of the quail as the return to their summer home.  Sometimes when I’m out in the garden the smallest things capture my attention.  As I wandered around the vege patch taking account of all the work needed to prepare for Spring planting I spotted the happiest Prunella vulgaris I’ve ever seen. It makes sense really; it was growing in a warm, moist spot which would have been exactly what it preferred; how wise of it!  Normally when I see these flowers I’m instantly motivated to pull up the plants straight away; in my garden they’re a weed.  This one though, I had to leave exactly where it was – I felt such a sense of pleasure from its abundant growth. It warmed me on the inside and made me smile – how clever to win me over with its show of vigour and enthusiasm – I couldn’t resist taking a photo!

Since then I’ve been back in the garden sowing seeds and watching the bees busy collecting pollen from my profusely blooming Eriostemon. Each time I find myself thinking about that cheeky Prunella. Then, this morning I remembered its common name, ‘Self-Heal’ and immediately began to laugh. I’d been speaking to a friend who’d been sharing her troubles and need for healing. Now I know I‘ll have to send her the photo I took so she’ll be reminded where to start.

Summers End

A joyful flush of new flowers to inspire and uplift.

A joyful flush of new flowers to inspire and uplift.

My exhaustion is reflected in the exhaustion and desiccation of my garden. No rain means no reviving. Our spirits are dried out and desperate for renewal. I’ve been watching the horizon intently for signs of Autumn’s approach.  I’ve even Autumn-cleaned my house.  All in readiness for the long-awaited arrival whose accompanying entourage will embellish the garden with shades of red, gold and orange. Plump raindrops will freshen grass,  late seasons fruit will swell and sweeten.  Harvest will be upon us and we will revel in its abundance; only let it be soon….

Well, it’s not much, dear friends, but we have had rain! Long enough and slow enough to sink in and do some good. Everywhere the garden is reviving; new shoots show themselves, the last flushes of flowers bloom.  The weather is still warm, a gentle heat the harbinger of Autumn – a warmth that encourages me out into the garden again.  Unlike the Northern Hemisphere where gardens are left to ‘over-winter’ because the ground is too cold and hard, here my garden must ‘over-summer’.  Dry earth is hard too and cultivation leads to desiccation. As well, the gardener is fanning herself in the shade of the grape-covered pergola so no chance of work from her!  This is my time out, my siesta of contemplation and creativity – plans for reinvigouration unfold. Then, as the harshness of the sun declines out I go, like the Monarch breaking free from the chrysalis, into a new relationship with my garden. As I wandered around today reacquainting myself with old friends I noticed two bees drinking from the bird bath. In greeting them they expressed deep gratitude for the rain; a hardworking bee needs constant availability of shallow water and this had been hard to sustain.  There is a feeling of newness and possibility alive in the garden; a freshness which speaks of unlimited possibilities. This is my favourite time of the year and I can feel a childlike excitement building as though after too long a confinement. No more stultifying humidity, no more total immersion in sunscreen, so much more freedom. In unison, my soul and the garden sigh with relief!

Landfall

Promise of things to come

Dusk at Long Bay Beach, Auckland New Zealand

A couple of posts ago I wrote about being all out to sea; adrift on the vast blueness that symbolises the infinite. Although I felt rudderless I was being steered by the gentle but firm hand of God. Most recently I have been on retreat learning about the subtle and magnificent teaching in the 14th century treatise The Cloud of Unknowing. Our very able teacher Cynthia Bourgeault has inspired me with her deep understanding of the writer’s perspective and has made available with great clarity the gift within the writing. It seems as though all my previous experiences have culminated in this deep understanding of what is now necessary. I see my life including all my actions and inactions totally differently. I’m experiencing a sense of greater freedom already and I am as yet to penetrate the cloud. The horizon is rich with promise. I now fully understand the yearning that has been urging me on for some time. Add to this the joy of daily swims when the wind and water turn from cold to warm magically upon submerging your body. The waka shaped roof of the chapel and its attendant Norfolk pines pointing heavenward like fingers pointing to the moon. All this held in the gentle embrace of silence. And so I come at last to land; no doubt I will bide here for a time before the gentle but firm hand of God moves me on.

Starstruck

Starry eyed joy, a Sisyrinchium occupation.

I’ve spent a bit of time over the last two weeks staring out at the view through my french doors. I’ve felt irritated. My body, host to an eclectic blend of bacteria and viruses has kept me housebound  so each time I looked out I’d notice how long the grass had gotten.  Grass –  not lawn you understand – an untidy mix of weeds competing with whatever grassy plants were robust enough to survive.  I desperately wanted them gone; mown, slashed, whatever it took.

Today I felt well enough to go out and reconnect with all the glorious growth that had continued in my absence. I needed to check up as well, we’ve had a good week of Spring rain and some of my beauties don’t appreciate its effect on their countenance. There’s nothing sadder than the blighting of a souvenir de la Malmaison rose after prolonged rain.  So I wandered – pleased to see that apart from some very furry strawberries the garden had weathered the rain pretty well. There were lots of roses and Hemerocallis flowering, their perfumes accompanied me as I wandered. Further down in my wild area I found some new bracken shoots, their tightly clenched velvet fists waving in the breeze. I couldn’t help having to stop and treat myself to a velvet caress. Plenty was running amok, however; I dodged an over-vigourous clump of nettles and contemplated the lawn mower again.  I wandered on, in the full knowledge I wasn’t up to pushing it. I pushed aside a wave of frustration instead and walked on. Then something magical happened – thoughts of lawn mowing were banished from my mind as I saw spread like sapphire confetti the starry blue eyes of Sisyrinchium staring up at me from between the blades of grass. Everywhere  walked now was speckled with these tiny blue flowers; my heart swelled and my body was flooded with gratitude. My previous thoughts of lawn mowing were instantly transformed as I imagined ways to maintain the starry display for as long  as possible. How, I wondered, had these little creatures managed to gain such strength of numbers? I am constantly amazed at these quiet miracles that occur; in the garden.  A blue wave of joy, a gentle occupation warming hearts and enticing bees. A simple pleasure , deeply rewarding.

Rolands Wood

Every year I await the return of the bluebells at Roland’s Wood. The glorious haze of blue shimmers beneath the skeletal branches of the beech wood.  Siren-like it lures me inward and onward down the path. Like meeting  a long-lost friend we greet each other; I bend in obeisance, the better to drink in their azure blessings. I have the deepest gratitude to dear Roland Sansom whose love of his home country inspired him to create this wood. It is believed to be the furthest North a beechwood has grown successfully in New Zealand and visitors come from all over to visit and admire it. Now the wood is being developed to include plantings around the ponds and bog areas through the tireless efforts of local man John Horrell and his Rotary Club helpers. Over time these plantings will grow to enhance the sense of wildness the beech wood exudes. It is wonderful to come here as the seasons cycle and watch the shifting of energies from birth to maturity and onward through decline and death.  Inherent in this cycling is the promise of return, the reminder that there is no end with out its new beginning. This is a gift beyond measure.