words and images by mk swanson
How Does My Garden Grow

How Does My Garden Grow

–“Man designs for himself a garden with a hundred kinds of trees, a thousand kinds of flowers, a hundred kinds of fruit and vegetables. Suppose, then, that the gardener of this garden knew no other distinction between edible and inedible, nine-tenths of this garden would be useless to him. He would pull up the most enchanting flowers and hew down the noblest trees and even regard them with a loathing and envious eye. This is what the Steppenwolf does with the thousand flowers of his soul. What does not stand classified as either man or wolf he does not see at all.

Hermann Hesse

As the pandemic ploughs through my core beliefs about myself, the natural world, and my fellow souls, I become disgusted with myself, wasting my precious privilege of relative health and safety.

I judge others, and I know that isn’t a humane or healthy response. I want to hide, be ALONE, even though that may make everything worse. I don’t have energy to ride bikes, kayak, dance, or practice yoga; nor do I want to write, or study, or explore my spiritual practices.

But then I read some Herman Hesse quotes. Every word steadied me, reminded me to offer love to others, and welcome a continual opening of my own soul. I remember what sorrow does to a person. I give myself some room.

It reminded me of this poem I wrote a few years ago, when a more personal tragedy struck.

Homily for Me

Soften your heart to its fragile nature,

open your eyes to their own clarity,

allow the touch of affection to comfort

and love to echo love.

Put the past in the past.

Grasp memory lightly so what stays is bright;

lay the heartbreak down softly and low.

Grow the happy life on top.

Notice the bee stings to die,

And the quail cripples to distract.

Mary k swanson

My soul is a thousand flowers, and I need to appreciate all of them rather than ripping them up before I learn what they are for.

Miniature Azaleas