Loving Kindness for the Gardener

This last week I moved my daughter to Seattle.  As we drove for many hours in the U-Haul and felt our tired and sore bodies, we talked about how we each are doing physically in our lives.  We found ourselves filled with gratitude toward our healthy bodies. We found ourselves filled with loving kindness for our bodies and each other – tenderness toward ourselves and taking care of ourselves.

This end of summer time is always a bit nostalgic for me.  Reminiscing on the summer, I find myself in a series of paradoxes.  I regret the days that I have lost where I did not take the time to honor the moment, the beauty, the warmth, the river and outdoor time, while  simultaneously savoring the memories of the summer  highlights.  I am enjoying the softening of the light and the yellow glow of summer’s end, while feeling sad about the shorter days.  I am wishing I had taken more vacations, while being thankful for the time at home.  I am thankful for the harvest from the garden, while happy that it is almost time to put it to bed for the winter.  I’ve relished the summer heat, yet my hands are chapped from dryness and I am looking forward to the cool moisture of fall.

During this time, I need to give myself some extra moments of loving kindness.  Tenderly holding myself in this season of transition and beauty.  I need to remember to smell the smokey smell of autumn, appreciate the glow of evening sunlight, and treat my body to extra care.  I love this poem, The Seven of Pentacles, by Marge Piercy.  It reminds me that we have to “tend” ourselves properly.

The Seven Of Pentacles

Under a sky the color of pea soup
she is looking at her work growing away there
actively, thickly like grapevines or pole beans
as things grow in the real world, slowly enough.
If you tend them properly, if you mulch, if you water,
if you provide birds that eat insects a home and winter food,
if the sun shines and you pick off caterpillars,
if the praying mantis comes and the ladybugs and the bees,
then the plants flourish, but at their own internal clock.

Connections are made slowly, sometimes they grow underground.
You cannot tell always by looking what is happening.
More than half the tree is spread out in the soil under your feet.
Penetrate quietly as the earthworm that blows no trumpet.
Fight persistently as the creeper that brings down the tree.
Spread like the squash plant that overruns the garden.
Gnaw in the dark and use the sun to make sugar.

Weave real connections, create real nodes, build real houses.
Live a life you can endure: Make love that is loving.
Keep tangling and interweaving and taking more in,
a thicket and bramble wilderness to the outside but to us
interconnected with rabbit runs and burrows and lairs.

Live as if you liked yourself, and it may happen:
reach out, keep reaching out, keep bringing in.
This is how we are going to live for a long time: not always,
for every gardener knows that after the digging, after
the planting,
after the long season of tending and growth, the harvest comes.

~ Marge Piercy ~

I invite you to ask yourself these questions:

What do you need to do right now to “tend” yourself?

What is your life calling you to do for yourself with loving kindness?

I am thinking of taking a walk, then a bath, followed by rubbing soothing lotions and creams on my thirsty skin.  What are you thinking of?