Gardening for the Soul - Sacred Space



A sensual garden can awaken our connections to the sacred. The Celtic mystic Father John O’Donahue says that our senses are “the gateway to the soul.” In looking outward to a beautiful flower, your eye is delighted, but you are also touched inside your heart, as Nature is a direct expression of the divine. It is a contemplative act to do a repetitive action like weeding, which involves sight (which little green sprout is a weed and which a flower?), touch (get a good hold!), and smell (moist, aromatic earth and budding flowers). Each of your five senses plays an important part in our discovery of the sacred, and they can be stimulated in winter as well as in the other seasons.


Tending your garden is an outward, physical action that unites body, mind, and spirit. It is like breathing. Taking in air brings us energy and exhaling releases tensions and promotes letting go and trusting in the next breath. The simple rhythm of successive breaths is both life-sustaining and transformational, connecting you to the air, the sky, and the heavens. When there is a pleasant fragrance in the air your sense of smell is awakened. There is a lot to be said about the art of aromatherapy! Scent is our strongest connection to memory, and memories are the treasures of life—making you the unique individual you are. The smell of a rose can link you up with memories—from your grandmother’s garden to your first Valentine’s bouquet—and the herb rosemary stimulates memory directly and as many flowers as can be, is used in aromatherapy.


When you prune, plant, weed, and harvest you are touching the soil, the plants, and the tools. It is nice to include plants in your garden that are purely sensual to the touch (soft velvety lamb’s ear is one favorite). As with a person, there are different ways to touch plants and different feelings thereby expressed. Usually a gently touch expresses love and care, and you fell comforted, do you not? Touch can immediately connect your body to your feelings and your sense of well being; it connects you to your inner self. Our language begins to develop; our communication deepens and becomes more fluid. We say we are deeply “touched” when our hearts are open. Touching plants, especially mature trees, can connect you to Nature more intimately and help you develop your relationship and feelings for these beautiful natural beings. If you ever have a chance to be in an old grove forest, check out the energy and look for what the Natives call the Grandfather of the forest. It is usually one of the oldest and tallest tree and for some reason you simply sense its wisdom.


Your sense of taste can easily be stimulated by the fruits, vegetables, herbs, and edible flowers in the garden. This is an especially direct connection between nature and your entire body. Picture yourself in a generous raspberry patch, eating those divine berry gems. Your delight and appreciation is felt in every flavor-filled, melt-in-you-mouth berry. My mouth is already watering as I write this. What better way could there be to develop good taste.


In your garden, your own personal sanctuary, you can be fulfilled by silence. The silence in a garden in not an empty, hollow, lonely silence—it is a soft silence that gently beckons you to go inward into your own soul. A great stone (Native Americans call the stones, the Stone People), in the garden can teach a lot about the beauty and groundedness of silence. In face, as in ancient Chinese and Japanese gardens, a well-chosen stone can be a focal point for meditation. When your soul yearns to be tended, go into the garden to cultivate both your inner and outer life—to silently build a bridge from the seen world to the unseen. The silence is then enriching and enables you to walk along an inner path that, with your usual distractions, you may never have noticed otherwise. Placing a beautiful-sounding wind chime in the garden will occasionally and spontaneously sing to you. The lingering vibrations of its harmonic sound resonate within you and, like a musical string finely tuned, you will find yourself coming into harmony with this inward and outward rhythm.


To truly see the beauty of every nuance of light, color, and texture in your intimate sacred garden—to gaze deeply and see well—is to bring a plant or quality of light—or even a person—deep into your soul. Each of us has the opportunity to develop our vision—to be visionary—to know the visible and invisible worlds. In your garden as well as in your daily life, each perspective of inner and outer detail as well as the wide-angle view is vital and richly fulfilling. Your garden can forever humble and reward you. The two seem to go hand in hand.

~~ Source Unknown ~~