Moved by Impermanence — Letting Go in a Changing World

It has been hard to focus on gardening this Spring. Natural disasters have distracted me, and any losses my garden suffered this past Winter pale in comparison to those victims of earthquakes, tsunami’s, radiation, floods, tornadoes, drought, wildfires and the like. The suffering of people, animals and the landscape make my meager gardening concerns seem almost selfish. And yet there is a truth that yokes all our plights: change is a central feature of life.

As a gardener, I am always taking Nature into my hands and manipulating Her to meet my aesthetics: planting, pruning, moving, removing, shaping, vanquishing, cutting. Nature, however, seems to make decisions based upon indifference, not how conscientious an organic gardener I am, nor my ranking in society. My diligence at control and aesthetics, therefore, is matched by such natural forces as wind, rain, snow, drought, cold, insects and the like. My ability to accept change is always being tested, and I am reminded of the impermanence of life. Continue reading

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Sanctuary & Temenos — Sacred Boundary for the Soul

Our soul has a boundless desire to take in life. However, when we need a sense of safety, security, comfort, replenishment, solace, peace, and relief from worldly activities we are naturally drawn to boundaries. Boundaries of time and place are like islands of consciousness that are true safe zones for the soul. These safe zones can manifest as sanctuary or refuge from the world, if but for a few moments.

Safety and peace need enclosure, an “interior castle” as Christian mystic Teresa of Avila puts it, or as the ancient Greeks called it, temenos. Physically, temenos is characterized as a sacred, protected or enclosed place, as in the space surrounding a temple or an altar. Psychologically, Carl Jung characterized temenos as the safe, private inner space deep within us, i.e. our sense of self independent of the world. In short, temenos — be it physical or psychological, profane or spiritual, within or without — affords a sacred boundary for the soul. Thomas Moore offers a practical characterization:

When we choose a seat or standing area on a bus or train, when we arrange space in an office or workplace, when we decide where to put a garden, or chairs on a porch, where to sit on the riverbank to have lunch, where to play with the children — all of these decisions have to do with temenos, marking out a space appropriate for a certain spirit that breathes life into our activity. Continue reading

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The Value of Sanctuary in Daily Life

One of the most appealing features of everyday sanctuary is its universality. It is both a place in the world and a feeling of inner safety. It is a home or temple, cozy corner, garden, or deep woods; it is the arms of a loved one or friend and, yes, it is even a moment of time at our workstation or while standing in line. For many people, sanctuary is their refuge in God.

In every instance, sanctuary is a harbor for the soul, and the soul giving harbor. It is an extraordinary opportunity to love and respect ourselves and the world anew every day. Continue reading

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7 Principles of Reverent Gardening

Raised beds at Cortesia Sanctuary

We have gardened the same 2 acres at our 22-acre Cortesia Sanctuary, outside of Eugene, Oregon, for over 25 years. The zeal of our youthfulness has matured into the content of elder years. From the start, however, we challenged ourselves to practice gardening with a philosophical foundation of reverence for life. To guide our efforts to honor Nature via gardening and land stewardship, we created seven guiding principles.

As the garden season unfolds, now would be a good time for thoughtfulness in your gardening efforts. We offer you the 7 Principles of Reverent Gardening for inspiration and instruction. To quote our motto: “Plant a seed of hope, respect the Earth, and harvest your good efforts.”

7 Principles of Reverent Gardening

  1. All of Earth is a Garden
    Conscientious stewardship of a garden is a means to practice the Reverent Gardener’s ethic of service: To enhance the well-being and ecology of Earth, nature and humanity by gardening with respect, courtesy, gratitude, and reverence.
  2. Nature is a vast web of interdependent lives and events of which humans are only part
    By becoming a student of nature’s complex system (microorganisms, insects, plants, animals, minerals, soil, natural forces such as wind, rain, sun, etc.), we can perceive and understand nature’s subtle and dramatic workings in our garden. Consequently, we can garden to restore, regenerate, and sustain nature’s integrity.
  3. The value of Nature is as much for itself as for humans
    We should be grateful for the opportunity to co-create daily with nature, and to know when to simply be a witness of nature at work and play in our garden. In the spirit of cooperation rather than domination, not every human intervention may be appropriate.
  4. Gardening is an opportunity to engage in honorable effort and right livelihood
    In partnership with nature, we can be a noble steward — for a moment, an hour, a season, and a lifetime. We can learn to be patient, observant and curious, having faith in the mystery of nature. Above all, we can learn to evoke in our efforts awe and wonder, and wisdom.
  5. The process of gardening is as desirable as the end product of our efforts
    Gardening allows us to learn about nature and ourselves. We should strive for a balanced philosophy and practice that embraces the wise and creative use of intuition as well as an honorable and intelligent use of science and technology. Such gardening “tools” should cause the least harm to all without sacrificing the garden or nature’s overall integrity.
  6. A garden should be beautiful as well as nutritious
    We should strive to create a peaceful refuge that nourishes and nurtures, giving optimally nutritious food for the body and replenishing food for the soul. The highest compliment to a garden is to perceive it as an inspiring sanctuary.
  7. Give back to Nature and your garden more than you take
    Live like you won’t be here tomorrow; have reverence and compassion for Earth as if you will be here forever. Therefore, sustain and regenerate your garden’s soil, recycle waste, and conserve water. Encourage diversity of plants, native vegetation, and desirable wildlife, large and minute. Foster the use of heirloom seeds and seed-saving. Use the least toxic inputs for both soil and plant. Grow only as much as you need and can share with others while offering a portion to the garden’s wildlife. Finally, do what you can to educate others on how to be an Earth-friendly, reverent gardener.

Meadow garden at Cortesia Sanctuary

Feel free to visit our website for more inspiration:
www.onesanctuary.com

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Beauty: A Way to Peace

Beauty is both a path toward inner peace and a path into the world. The recognition of beauty — within yourself, others, objects, architecture, animals and nature — can create a warm sanctuary for the soul in daily life. How is this possible? It is because when we put a face of beauty upon the world, our heart and mind are lightened amidst the heaviness or stress of life. Perceiving beauty, therefore, becomes a means to experience joy and reverence, helping us to elicit kindness and gratitude along the way. Continue reading

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The Grace of Daily Sanctuary

Have you ever felt the need to just crawl into a little corner of the day to comfort yourself? Maybe the tensions of work suggest you push away from it to soothe your aching mind. Maybe you would feel better about a recent argument with your spouse if you had just a little time and space alone to yourself. Maybe you just want to sit still — very still — by a window, in front of a personal altar, amongst some woods, in your favorite chair, or amidst your garden. Perhaps alone time in a special setting, even if for a few minutes, is all you need to regenerate yourself.

  • Where do you go where you feel more yourself than any other place?
  • How often do you give yourself permission to go there?
  • What does sanctuary mean to you? Continue reading
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“Divine Mother of the Universe” — Prayer IX by Miasha

Prayer IX

Oh, Divine Mother of the Universe,
how can I doubt your Love for me?

In the sanctuary of your Love,
grant that I may have a
Mind of Peace,
Pure Heart,
Wisdom.

Count my faults,
Divine Mother,

but never abandon me.
Count my blessings daily,
for they are jewels I bestow upon you.
Count my human burdens,
for I nightly lay them at your feet. Continue reading

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“Divine Mother Earth” — Prayer XIX by Miasha

Prayer XIX

Oh, humble Divine Mother Earth,
I am on my knees in your Garden,
inhaling your sweet fragrance,
pouring out my gratitude —
receiving your blessings.

Passersby see an old man weeding —
they do not know:
I pluck old habits, old thoughts
from my mental garden.
I prune old desires.
I do this lovingly, but they do not know.

They do not smell the Earth,
hear Her breathe,
sing through the birds,
sigh in the forest breeze. Continue reading

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“Mother Gardener” by Miasha

I see you in the garden, Mother One.
“Receive this gift,” your heart gently offers
the plant to the earth.

This garden is your child,
tendered and nurtured by your wisdom and kindness.
I am no longer surprised that you stay
until the last light of day puts your
garden-child to rest in the comfort of darkness. Continue reading

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The Selfish Gardener – A Short Story for Spring

There once was a selfish gardener determined to keep the bounty of his garden to himself. So, he did anything to keep the animals and insects away.

“Pests, all of them!” he scowled. “Why, the birds come and eat my precious berries and fruit, leaving their droppings all around the garden. The bees pester me—I can’t even walk around without fear of getting stung. I don’t trust caterpillars—who knows what they’ll eat, maybe my tomatoes or prized dahlias! Those frogs keep me awake at night with their bellowing. The moles and gophers destroy my lawn. I’ve never seen a good bug, ever! And God help a neighbor’s cat or dog who gets in. Undesirables, all of them!”

For these reasons, the selfish gardener set traps, sprayed insecticide, squished bugs between his fingers, shot BB’s at the birds, and secured a very tight fence line to keep other animals out. Consequently, his garden was quite lovely but very quiet — nothing moved except the slight rustle of wind through the plants. Continue reading

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