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Earth Etude for Elul 16: Lessons Learned from my Garden

by Maxine Lyons

Reflecting on my connection to t’shuvah means returning more mindfully to positive words and actions and performing mitzvot – commandments. T’shuvah also includes recognizing our connection to the earth, and for me, learning what my garden has to teach me. In a short book, Don’t Throw in the Trowel, the author quips, “a garden is a sublime lesson in the unity of humans and nature.” A good garden to me is one that is well planned and cared for, and I am grateful to the Earth’s wisdom and resilience to provide the basis for plants, shrubs and trees to grow and flourish if given the correct nutrients.

As I tend my gardens, I am also practicing ways to cultivate and grow into those more healthy body, mind and spiritual aspects of well-being.

Through concentrated time of t’shuvah, I am focusing on refining the skills to expand my capacity to be forgiving of the broken and vulnerable places within myself and also forgiving those fragile and difficult places in dear family members and friends. Jewish law clearly outlines biblical concerns to protect the earth. I follow closely many of the more contemporary texts, writings and social justice activities that are so vitally important; they  assist us in learning how to sustain the earth today that benefits all of us globally.

I am ending with words from Thich Nhat Hahn, a Buddhist monk who teaches about connection that is one of the five mindfulness trainings.

“I will contemplate interbeing and consume in ways that preserve peace, joy and well being and consciousness and in the collective body and consciousness of my family, my society and the Earth.”

And let us say, Amen.

Maxine Lyons enjoys sharing her understanding of the benefits of Jewish and Buddhist meditation practices, engages in racial justice activities, and is a perennial learner as she gardens in any available space around her home in Newton!

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