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A New Prayer


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My meditation over coffee this morning turned to thoughts life itself as a prayer, praying continuously, but at the same time, my need for creating sacred spaces within my life for special closeness to the sense of spiritual presence, for regular focused meditation and prayer, in finding 'center' in my daily life. What emerged as central to my meditation was something of a thought of "prayer within a prayer', of "sacred space within a sacred place."


I thought of my yard and gardens as metaphor to this idea of my life as a prayer. Within my garden areas, it is neccesary to adapt cultiivation practices to the use of each area of the yard, each particular bed, even each particular kind of plant at its particular stage of growth. While good gardening and cultivation practices of all area are important to the quality of my gardens as a whole, there are a few very special plots, plots given extra attention and especially fine preparation and intense care, that serve a crucial role in the quality of the entire garden.


These are plots I utilize as seed bed and nursery areas, in a true sense, where it all begins for the entire garden. If my life is a garden, then these special areas within my life in which I create special time and space for prayer and meditation are the seed bed and nursery areas within the whole of my life as a garden. They are the sacred spaces within a sacred place.


At the same time, it is unavoidable not to notice, think about, the present state of my yard and gardens as I look out over my coffee cup. What I see is sad, terribly sad, the worst my yard has looked in the 15 yrs or so I've lived here. Three years of both the most severe drought, along with the hottest summers and coldest winters on record for this area, have been devastating. Additionally, taking a solid hit by two major hurricanes in recent years just prior to the onset of these weather extremes heavily damaged and weakened the magnficent old trees that shade the house, that have always been the feature first attractiing attention and admiration of any that saw this property. They've gone from asset to liablitity. Their massive branches no longer overhang my home with blessed welcome shade from the broiling Texas summer sun, but with dreaded threat of deadly disaster.


At various points over that time, I have found myself, bit by bit, stage by stage, giving up parts of it as hopeless. I could never have imagined, as a gardener of many years experience, how the ground could be so dry that it simply isn't possible to supply enough water. Several weeks ago, I had the biggest rainfall I've had here this year...a good 3-4 inches over two days. There were actually puddles and visible water in the long dry roadside ditches! I was expecting much result, that didn't happen. Within three days, the ground was as powder dry as before. How ironic and coincidental that three years ago, on a vaction trip to Nevada, I took up hardy North American desert cactus as a hobby, my main concern at the time, could they survive and not succumb quickly to rot in our wetter climate here. How funny. They are presently the only plants thriving here now.


This morning, as on most mornings for a long time, I didn't go out back, didn't try to fight my way through over-grown brambles and vines that have tied closed the gate to the area I've long used as combination seed bed, nursery, and vegetable garden. There's nothing back there but weeds and tallow sprouts, criss-crossed through with bare dusty paths worn by my horse since I gave her access to forage for bits of grass she might be able to find there. Without a healthy yard and gardens into which to transplant seedlings and tender young nursery plants, there is no need for seed beds and nursery areas anyway. And just not enough water can be poured onto the ground to produce vegetables. I am no longer physically strong enough to get out there and do all I used to do anyway.


If my yard and gardens are metaphor for my life, there is no escaping the reality that while those seed bed and nursery areas are the very heart of it, those times and spaces of my meditation and prayer my sacred spaces within the sacred place of my life, and the greater reality, the world in which my yard and gardens exist, and my life must be prayed, must be adapted to and attuned to if either my gardens or my life are going to be well and healthy.


While in the present weather related crisis in my yard, those desert cactus are thriving beyond any other plants, I know well enough that it would be foolish to think the thing to do is to utilize them and simarly adapted desert species to re-construct a new landscape throughout my yard. Eventually, this freak weather pattern is going to break, and the prevailing long-term wetter climate conditions return. And, as my intital concerns for growing them here them were, they will quickly succumb to rot. Tobe honest, while i find the cactus interesting, they are also not what i'd want for my larger landscaping theme. There are practical as well as aesthetic reasons for that....I have become quite aware of how carefully I need to place them within my yard and gardens, to protect both pets and people, including myself, from accidental or ignorant contact and painfull encounters with them.


If my life is a prayer, that prayer can only be prayed in harmony to both the within and the without. This metaphor of my life as a prayer as a garden that exists in balance with both the greater reality, greater world, within which I live it, and the seed beds and nursery areas within, from which I create and maintain it, is, I think, going to be much in my thoughts to bringing the above down into what is below. The entirety of my life as a prayer is dependent on bringing my life into harmony with both the within and the without.


I am presently, in my life, in a place where I've been before, and where all of us are at some time or another. O've had to move,and move on, from a life and a home where I'd been happy, content, that had been good, but no longer was, no pieces of my life longer fit together in a good way. If my life is as my garden, its in pretty sad shape right now. Just as I have no control over the present weather crisis in my region, in which my yard is placed, so have there been changes in conditions in my life circumstances, within which i must seek to create and maintain my life as a prayer, a garden within the boundaries and limits of the larger environment around me.


Unfortunately, as well, I've realized I've taken up growing a few cactus in my life, given them more room to grow, setting them about in places where my longer term garden conditions, life prayer, wouldn't have been nearly so hospitable to them, for pretty much the same reasons. Present conditions in my yard, due to influences of the greater weather conditions of late, are much more conductive to growing desert cactus than the daylillies, iris, azaleas, and vegetables that were once the pride of my garden. The cactus are thriving, the daylillies, iris, azaleas are dying, and I've given up entirely on trying to grow tasty nutritious vegetables, in both the gardens of my yard, and my life.


I've been trying to accept, submit, adapt in the short term, in both. But the dying daylilies, iris, azaleas, and other things about my present home have been having another effect, serving another purpose. It wasn't so long ago that I was so happy and content here in my home, I couldn't imagine having to leave it. I certainly couldn't imagine wanting to leave it. My sister once said of my yard, as we went about one morning to get the first peek at which new daylilies had opened their first bloom of the season, that they bloomed so beautifully and well for me, because they love me, and they love me because I had loved them first.


Scattered here and there about this property and within my home are the deterorating artifacts of life gone by, part of my prayer that enriched, nourished. The vegetable garden plot over grown by weeds. the rusting remnants of kennels collapsing under the weight of brambles and vines that seem as happy in drought as in times of monsoon. The once grassy pasture that sustained my horse without purchased feed most the year, now badly over grazed, being over taken with yankee weeds, senna bean weeds, and tallow sprouts, the two most acursed plants in se Texas agriculture vocabulary, and perhaps the beginning of a future new little pine tree forest. The old grooming shop building, once the heart of my daily routines, in need of paint, filled with clutter called storage. Worse, the charming little 'vintage farmhouse', built when my mother was pregnant with me, which felt as if it embraced me warmly the first time I walked into it, as if it had just been waiting here for me all those intervening years, is rapidly deteriorating beyond my ability to keep up with repairs and maintenance.


I cannot create sacred spaces within what is no longer a sacred place, for the changes that have taken place beyond my control, in the greater reality.


I think its time to move. To take up a new prayer, sing a new life and a new garden into being.

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It is times like this that I find myself reminded, sometimes forcefully, of how it must be that all elements of the tapestry must be woven harmoniously in relation to each other. Of the practical truth of the basic spiritual principle of 'consistency throughout' as represented in use of the nature of a plant, always consistent in nature of root, tree, and fruit, and that of as below, is above, and as above, is below.


We simply cannot find peace in any, the physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual, without seeking balance, harmony, between them all. If one is off, out of whack, so will the others be.



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