I invite you to consider that the humble and unassuming task of gardening is a profound method for learning about ourselves, getting touch with our souls, and exploring spirituality.
For most of us, our lives are filled with thoughts and feelings that arise in response to what we observe in the world around us—our interactions with others, daily demands of schedules, bills to pay, time spent in cars, the houses in which we live, and what we see on the news and the Internet. In his book called How to Know Higher Worlds, Rudolf Steiner suggested that those of us who are interested in soul and spiritual development take time out to observe with awareness what is growing and blossoming in nature, and alternately, what is withering and dying. (p. 39) Patient and repeated contemplation of such a simple purposeful focusing of attention changes who we are and what we have the capacity to become. Why? This activity puts us in touch with phenomena coming from unseen realms and returning there. This unmanifest space from where plant life is “coming and going” is the same place where sublime ideas and solutions live— the place where our ah-ha moments originate. Once we can begin to see plant life "as condensed spirit and soul formations" (Theosophy, p. 148) carried out to the fullest extent, this capacity for attention can reshape our view of other people in our lives as we can also begin to recognize their Buddha nature, the divine spark in others, opening us up to increased kindness and compassion. This is one example of how the garden is simply a mystical place in which to spend time.
Of course, there are all the practical reasons to grow your own vegetables, such as food security, a more efficient use of lawn space, access to freshly harvested food (and probably enough to share with neighbors), and a contribution to your home economy. I had a chance to eat some of the grapes and figs that our publisher Claus Sproll cultivates outside the LILPOH office in downtown Phoenixville; they were exquisite! The finest quality ingredients ever brought to the table can be grown in your own back yard—never mind all of the spiritual stuff. Maybe that's the most magical part of all when it comes to gardening.
Jodi Carnes, our new outreach coordinator is doing a great job editing our Facebook page. Like us on Facebook to keep up with news, specials, and even offers of free products. Willa Maglalang is our volunteer Facebook editor, posting events that can't make it into our quarterly issue. It's worth noting that Willa lives in Manila; although she wasn't in the hard-hit area of Typhoon Haiyan, it is a reminder that our LILIPOH community is worldwide, so please continue to keep the storm victims in your prayers.
From my own garden, with temperatures holding steady in the 20s, I'll be harvesting and sitting down to eat the Brussels sprouts still holding their own in the field, and a salad grown under the protection of a hoop house.