A few weeks ago on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, I found myself walking aimlessly around my neighborhood. It would have been a perfect time for people to gather in every part of the globe to celebrate a hard-earned milestone. But here we were, holding our collective breath, sheltered in our homes, waiting for the virus to pass us by.
Yet everywhere I looked on this gorgeous day, I saw new life awakening – birds merrily chirping, squirrels scurrying about, rosebuds blossoming. Spring had indeed arrived. There was a beautiful green-ness all around.
If Spring was the harbinger of hope, the season of rebirth and renewal, I thought it was sadly in stark contrast to our somewhat tethered and stationary existence at the moment. Where was the exuberance, the delight in new beginnings that accompanied this season?
I felt a dis-quietness within. How could I view these disparate realities with a singular lens, so to speak, and discover a path forward? It seemed far fetched, even fanciful.
Continuing on my walk, I occasionally spied a neighbor here and there working on their garden. The image of tilling dirt to coax life and beauty out of it ignited my imagination. A metaphor began to take shape in my mind’s eye.
Could this quarantine that was superimposed on us have a life-saving grace? Can I harvest some personal meaning out of this physical and existential landscape? Like the compacted earth after a cold winter, I wondered whether our constricted movements, the absence of our accustomed freedom, may have hardened the ground from which life’s choices spring.
The hope that had eluded me glimmered right in front of my eyes. My heart understood how it can be gleaned through the lens of the ancient and revered task of gardening. By borrowing from its nature-driven wisdom and ethic of hard work, I was inspired to think of tending the soil, the foundation, of my life.
Having been given this time to pause from the busyness of everyday, I felt encouraged to take the first step to soften the ground in my inner garden, perhaps plant new seeds, and pull out weeds along the way.