Embracing Change And Planting Flowers As A Spiritual Practice – Insights from the Wilderness #184

Planting flowers as spiritual practiceI read a great spiritual saying the other day that said, “If it doesn’t nurture your soul, let it go”. Like all helpful spiritual insights and wisdom, it got me thinking about the single digit temperatures outside my window, and the fact that my crocus bulbs won’t be poking their green shoots out of the ground for another five or six weeks.

I put down my book and took a moment to think about all the changes that I had invited into my life over the last few years. That reminiscing took me back to an evening in the desert; back to the evening I knew it was once again time to make some changes in my life.

I was sitting in the desert with my wife that evening. We were drinking a glass of wine together watching the sun casting breathtaking shadows as it slowly sank behind the red sandstone mountains of southern Utah. The Rangers at the Paria River BLM station where we were volunteering at the time, had closed up and headed home to Kanab for the night. We were quietly sharing the immense silence and isolation of the desert; listening to the distant cries of coyotes and the occasional sound of a passing truck off in the distance on Rte. 89. It was far and away our favorite time of day in the desert. We sat there silently soaking the moment into our memory.

We were feeling a bit melancholy that night knowing that our eight amazing years living on the road full time in a motorhome was coming to an end. We were coming to grips with the realization that it was time to come off the road and put down roots again. We knew in our hearts that our gypsy life was about to change.

It was a tough decision, but three years ago we took one last trip to Houston, Texas where we sold the motor home and took a flight back to Oregon. We now spend our evenings sitting in the front yard of our new home in Redmond, Oregon watching the sun setting behind the Cascade Mountains.

Like the sunsets we enjoyed in the desert, the sunsets over the Three Sisters, Black Butte, Jefferson, and Mt. Hood are a powerful, yet gentle reminder of how small and insignificant we really are. It’s impossible to sit in the presence and beauty of those ancient mountains and volcanoes and not experience humility. They spiritually ground my soul and remind me the importance of intentionally living in the moment.

It took a while to get settled into our new home, but we are now back to putting down roots, digging in the dirt, and playing with our flowers and plants. Like us, they too are putting down new roots—-roots that nurture their souls.

I know many of my neighbors think I’m a bit eccentric as they watch me water my plants every evening. When they ask why I spend so much time watering my plants, I tell them that they grow better when I take the time to talk to them every day. They shake their heads and go back to mowing their lawns and running errands.

What I can’t tell them is what it means for my soul; the simple truth that I love helping things grow; that watering my flowers and digging in the dirt is an important spiritual practice that deeply nurtures my soul. I plant flowers and work in the raised beds of my vegetable garden because, like watching the sunset over the mountains each evening over a glass of wine, it’s a spiritual practice that helps me live in the moment. It reminds me to stay awake and live my life more consciously and intentionally paying attention to the beauty that surrounds me.

I walk three or four miles in the dry canyon down the road every other day, I water my plants each evening, and I watch the sun settle over the mountains over a glass of wine each at the end of each day because they are important spiritual practices that give my life meaning. Even gypsy’s need roots.

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