When I was growing up, my father loved to garden. He often would employ me, my brother and the other neighborhood children to help him ‘work in the earth’, as he put it. (which was always followed by a trip to the local ice cream store for a treat 🙂

Though he would say it jokingly, as an adult, I now realize gardening was a very spiritual undertaking for him. As well, he was laying that foundation within me.

Though we planted a wide variety of vegetables over the years, by far, his favorite plants were tomatoes – cherry, Better Boy, Early Girl, you name it. He and my mother would always go to the local greenhouse, though they could’ve purchased the plants cheaper elsewhere. fruit-192753__180I now try to do the same.

He’d purchase rich topsoil, and carefully research fertilizers and other additives, reading all he could about how to best care for the plants. He followed a strict watering schedule, pinched the ‘suckers’ off the bottom part of the stalks, and staked the plants up with strips of fabric from old T-shirts, all with our sometimes less than enthusiastic help. <grin> He’d also protect the plants from deer, rabbits and other ‘thieves’ with a wire fence.

When the yield came in, it came in hardy. We’d feast on tomatoes for weeks, in sandwiches, soups and sauces. My dad’s favorite way to eat a tomato? Still warm from the vine, cut up, and sprinkled with salt and pepper. Simplicity at its finest.

When the harvest was over, we’d rip out the plants and/or till them under to prepare the soil for yet another growing season the following year.

Not only is gardening a cherished memory for me, my father’s loving care of the plants taught me about 1) nurturing, 2) sacrifice, 3) encouragement, and 4) commitment.

Taking care of the garden from cradle to grave was, and is, a time honored ritual, and a pure and beautiful homage to the perfection within each plant.

As children, we were perhaps oblivious to some of these higher level concepts, but the pure satisfaction in my father’s eyes when he’d pluck the juicy, red ripe fruit from the vine was never lost on me. As well, I can’t count the number of times we talked out problems, or made plans or just laughed together while we got our hands dirty.

flowers-1174127__180All in all, gardening reflects the spiritual journey I feel I’m on every day. Feeling the Earth in my hands connects me, grounds me. Pun intended. 🙂

By gardening, I pay homage to my father, and the lessons and gifts he passed down to me. And therein lies the magic. Again and again, I get to witness the cycle of life, knowing I’ve played a part in that cycle. I connect with the elements of nature–Earth, water, air, heat and light. In doing so, I’ve nurtured nature, and then, she nurtures me.

It’s give and take, and an opportunity to gain 5) perspective, 6) awareness, 7) knowledge, 8) wisdom and 9) patience.

LET ME HEAR FROM YOU: Do you garden? How are you able to connect in a deeper way with the process?

Rebecca E. Neely tells stories with a paranormal flair. The Keeper, Book 1 in the Crossing Realms series, is available now on Amazon!