My mother says when her hands are inside the soil
that is how she goes to church.
It took me two decades to really understand.
It took me finding my own piece of land.
Five square feet of neglected backyard, but it was mine
Well, it was rented and not for a particularly long time
but I loved every weed-infested overshadowed centimetre,
even the beetles. Not saying I overcame all of my phobias overnight,
but we are all works in progress.
You see, my parents are gardeners, not by trade but by passion.
I was raised to climb trees and love plants
but I was afraid of creepy-crawlies
and often found myself retreating into my cave.
“When is it going to be finished?” I asked my mother a lot as a child.
She tried to explain to me that a garden is never finished,
that it can improve and grow and change, but it’s never finished.
A garden is a work in progress, a drama in time.
At the time that seemed insane.
It took me two decades to understand,
it took finding my own piece of land,
finding that church for myself inside the soil.
And after a long, cold winter my first irises came up into bloom
– purple and gold – and I started thinking about bees.
Bees and the subtle majesty of how one set of species eats
is how the vast majority of plants reproduce and produce so much.
When I am asked why I put so much energy and time
into a garden that is only a temporary home
I am reminded that I am potentially more temporary than my garden.
We are works in progress, dramas a process towards permanence.
My mother’s church is different to mine, her soil feeding a family
while I watch moss grow, rolling from tree branch onto my boots,
in truth my worship proved more permanent than my garden.
Even when none of it can be called mine, any more than Eve owned Eden
But our separate denominations both preach,
the connections between leaf and flower and bee,
interconnectivity being as close to permanence as we are ever likely to see
or touch outside of a church created of soil.
There will be seasons of dormancy and growth.
There will be times when it appears that nothing is beautiful or alive.
But there is a beauty to expectation
– to patience – to growth – to connection
and to that work that is never finished.