A few months ago, for the first time in my adult life, I planted a garden. I watched YouTube videos and read articles and consulted with friends about how to prepare the soil, when to plant, what to plant, and how to maintain it all. I was PUMPED. I talked to each little plant as I put it in the ground and told it how big and strong it would grow. And as each one started producing tiny and awesome versions of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and squash, my excitement grew and grew. My garden and I were unstoppable.
Until we weren’t…
I came out one morning and red and white aphids had invaded my tomatoes. MY tomatoes. So, I watched YouTube videos and read articles and consulted with friends about how to get rid of them. I sprayed soapy water and other natural pesticides, I wiped them off with a wet paper towel, I cut off the parts of the plants that wouldn’t recover. And nothing worked. They kept spreading from plant to plant and increasing in number and that’s when I decided to throw a tantrum.
My fiancé told me (in a kind way) to simmer down. “When you plant a garden,” he said, “you always have to prepare for loss. That’s just the way it goes.”
I realized that after eighteen months of big and small losses surrounding COVID, I wasn’t prepared for more. I could only anticipate abundance and when abundance didn’t immediately come, I felt shattered. It felt like a personal attack—like God and Mother Nature and the aphids were conspiring against me.
As Anne Lamott says, “In the garden, the enemy is everything: the aphids, the weather, time. And so you pour yourself into it, care so much, and see up close so much birth, and growth, and beauty, and danger, and triumph. And then everything dies anyway, right?”
What would my gardening experience have been like if I had this mentality from the beginning? If I relinquished some control, embraced the known enemies, and walked into the situation with the acceptance of; you will lose some and it will all die anyway. Would I have planted a few extra tomato plants? Maybe. Would I have felt less angry? I doubt it. I know for sure, though, I would have been more gracious with myself.
Perhaps that is all part of the abundance.
Where are you anticipating abundance that hasn’t yet come? What losses are you currently grieving? Where might you need to be more gracious with yourself?
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