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  • Elaine Fletcher Chapman

Sanctuary Garden

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Early this morning seeds arrived in the mail, Morning Glories and a Wildflower Mix with promises to feed the bees. No instructions. Just seeds in a see through plastic pouch. I understand growing plants from seeds takes patience. This is week 5 in our shelter in place situation. And I have worked in the backyard more in the last few weeks than I have in 5 years. Not that I have created order… no rather some form of disorder. I believe in randomness, even strangeness.

My guide: The Sanctuary Garden: Creating a Place of Refuge In Your Garden by Christopher Forrest McDowell and Tricia Clark-McDowell.  The Sanctuary Garden begins: “There is a theology to gardening that few of us consider, but to understand this theology means relinquishing control-our arsenal of books, techniques, tools, chemicals, fertilizers, fancy hybrids and expectations. Yes, that is exactly what we must do if we are to fully embrace a more spiritual form of gardening. As a part of nature we must learn to enter our garden as if it were truly sacred, we must learn to enter with humility.” This is exactly my approach. I can enter no other way especially given this virus causing so much suffering. I enter with humility, gratitude and the need to make something concrete and real. Makeshift at best for all the reasons you can guess. Each day I enter with reverence for any refuge I create or receive as I go. Guided as always by the knowing and the unknowing of what presents itself.

There is a suggestion to soak the Morning Glory seeds before planting. But that takes time and I am anxious to place them in the dirt by the fence. The morning rain stopped and the ground is soft. There is no danger of a freeze. I’m anticipating that particular blue of the blossom.  The McDowell’s write: “If you create a Sanctuary Garden in your life, remember why you are doing so. It has something to do with nurturing peace within and without, with fostering a relationship in a special place, even if it is simply a chair sitting on your porch or balcony with a few potted plants. Let that be your Sacred Garden. The purity of your devotion and intentions is what matters, not what other people think… by embracing your sacredness you are prepared to embrace the sacredness of the world.” I hold in my heart all who are sick and those who have died, all those providing care, all those in isolation. Every sacred life.

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