Gardener Writers and the Trees Next Door
Yesterday we planted up pots. Our garden is sixty foot long, a sly strip of lawn – hidden bumps to trip the unsuspecting – a couple of flower beds and piles of uncut wood. To the left there’s an alleyway and trees which are really in our neighbour’s garden but they’re so tall and bushy, it feels like they’re in ours. Also they are my particular friends (tall and bushy is good, in a friend). We are not house proud so our garden looks pretty messy most of the time, which doesn’t bother me much as I’m not fond of manicured gardens. All I ask for is ragged wind, leaves on wood, the dance of light and shade, a few well-chosen shrubs and flowering plants. It doesn’t take much, really.
This could be because for extended periods of time over the years, I’ve had trouble with four of the five senses. Sinus issues – loss of smell and taste - tinnitus, and a rather serious eye disease which could have blinded me. The kids say if only they’d lopped me off at the neck, I’d be fine.
Recently I was on oral steroids for asthma, and the effect on my senses was remarkable. I could taste, smell and hear the tiniest details of life after months of winter colds and sinus issues had wrapped the world in cling film. So I squeezed the sensory juice out of Garden Day like a mad woman – scent of earth, light on leaves, birds. The rhythm of planting – scooping soil, cracking plastic, a quiver of tendrils as plants lift and separate – it’s somehow soothing. And as I lower life into holes and fill spaces with tangy earth, it strikes me how this is like writing – digging holes deep into the subconscious, making space for birthing small ideas. Slow, nurturing, with a different rhythm to most of life. My mind is a sly strip of lawn full of hidden slugs - self-approbation or despair - and piles of unformed thoughts. When I write, I drop seeds into holes and hope they’ll mature across the page, giving shape and meaning to my story. Every time I doubt this will happen and every time, somehow, it does. A bit like planting seeds in pots and startling at the small miracle. A life-burst, a rooting, a thrust towards light.
Sure I’ll have to work at it – make time, water the soil, of my spirit, my imagination, weed out rubbish, prune back – the things that gardeners/writers do.
But perhaps it’s time to trust ourselves, the way God has wired us – we’re lousy at some things –in my case, cleaning or decorating - but we can write. And you are my trees next door, my particular friends, seemingly so much taller and bushier than I. Yet somehow it doesn’t matter because your presence is infinitely comforting; your honesty about successes and failures, your encouragement, your blog posts and comments and Facebook shares. It’s almost as if we’re in the same garden.
This is what we can do for each other. This is what’s so brilliant about the ACW. So, onward! Inhale the spirit of the age, pray, allow your mind to wander on paper and urge others on, trusting that, together, under the Gardener’s ancient hands we’ll produce something of kingdom value. A thrust towards light.
About the authorDeborah Jenkins is a primary school teacher and freelance writer who has written articles, devotional notes and short stories. She has recently completed a novella, The Evenness of Things, available as an Amazon e-book and is currently working on a full length novel.. Deborah loves hats, trees and small children. After years overseas with her family, she now lives in south-west London with her husband, a Baptist minister, and a cat called Oliver.
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