The Gift of Hope

Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal. My strength lies solely in my tenacity.
- Louis Pasteur

When my friend Matt Cromwell, the author of the blog, The Church/State Guy, wrote me and asked if I would like to be part of a blog relay, HOPE 2012, initiated by Melanie Crutchfield, I grabbed the opportunity without hesitation.  Afterall, gardening is about hope, right?

There are a whole host of gardeners who don’t get bogged down with such esoteric considerations as hope and its relation to dirt digging and weed pulling, but I tend towards pursuits that go beyond the usual bag of compost.   For example, garden nurseries are for me like spiritual retreats.

I have to watch my tendencies.  There are only so many times you can contemplate a rose and sometimes my friends would just like a tomato, not a dissertation on the meaning of life.   Still, if we get to the gritty-gritty of a gardener’s life most will agree that we often face a regular companion– the Doubt – who usually visits after the umpteenth haul of weeds and overgrown shrubs produced on any given day, or the sometimes daunting elements of nature which perplex our plans for utter garden perfection.

The Doubt is quite loud, actually.  For all its familiarity, you would think it a friend, a nagging one no less, but normally we don’t see it as such.  Usually, we see it as a pesty foe who is often questioning:  why the heck am I doing all this work? The answer doesn’t come so readily.  It is guised in a number of ways that challenge our sweetest desires.  We await The Answer only to hear nothing but the sway of trees in wind.

Yes, the sway.  You look a bit bewildered by the relevance, but humor me for a bit.  Sway is the to and fro movement made possible by the wind.  It’s evident tonight.  I look at a pink sky as a yellow sun is about to set and white clouds bounce on a canvas made blue by an intelligence that originated somewhere in time that I can only imagine in the purest of space.  I see trees bend and flowers too as if in a dance.   For the most part, they remain strong no matter what forces come their way.

I got to this moment because of hope.  I could give up, and a few times I tried, only to find in my  despondency an awareness that I do no service to myself, my family or life by giving up.  So, I get up, damn it.  Over and over again.  I move forward, I move backward.  I sway.  Voices swirl around me saying I’ll believe it when I see it, or, there she goes again.  But I can’t listen, although often at first I do.  I tell myself what would life look like if I told the child that falls in the wake of their first walk, you can’t, you can’t, or the cancer patient facing chemo, why bother?  I’ll tell you what life would look like.  Pretty bad.

Doubt is our greatest foe.  It is also our most important teacher.  It challenges us daily to look beyond our many trips and falls on the path, rise again and keep at it.   Giving up is not an option.  The sunflower didn’t happen by giving up.  Neither did the rose.  Plant a seed.  Nurture it.  Embrace the sway.  The miracle is our persistence and the garden that blooms because of it.

Passing the Baton I now pass the Hope Baton to two exceptional bloggers:  Leah Singer, whose blog Leah’s Thoughts captures life’s pursuits with grace, a touch of humor and heartfelt consideration, and Kate Miller, whose blog High Altitude Gardening, brings smiles, laughter and beauty as she shares her experiences living and gardening in the mountains of Utah.

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