The Greedy Gardener

I am greedy this time of year – greedy for color. Every day I circle my small urban garden to see what else is blooming and how the foliage is greening up. On my walks around the city, I revel in blooming bulbs, shrubs, and trees. After the brown of winter, the color is good for my soul.

Part of my greediness is wanting more than I can have in my garden. During the forsythia bloom cycle the bright yellow branches I see around town remind me that I don’t have a forsythia in my garden anymore. My forsythia outgrew its limited space; I removed it last year and I’ve decided I don’t really have room for forsythia. I am aware of the limitations of my garden.

quinceQuince are a less-common but equally attractive shrub – with their orange blossoms covering a mounded shrub. I was on an errand recently and stopped my car to get out and walk around a block to admire several beautiful quince specimens. I don’t have any quince in my yard – I am aware of the limitations of my garden.

Beyond the shrubs, there are the blooming trees this time of year – flowering cherry, peach, plum, red bud, crabapple and more! I do have a peach tree that is blooming and will hopefully bear fruit, but my flowering plum died from a harsh temperature drop and my hawthorne was split in a late spring snow storm. I am greedy for more flowering trees. And I am aware of the limitations of my garden.

My dream garden has no space limitations. I picture hedges of flowering shrubs, a kaleidoscope of trees – some just flowering, some fruit-bearing. I imagine fields of daffodils, graceful spires of iris, not to mention the summer bloom of peonies, lavender and more. Just an endless cycle of color and bloom, one section after another. It’s a dream – why not dream big?!flowering cherry

As I ponder this greedy garden dream, I wonder about my soul. Since my purpose here in this space is to reflect on the life of the soul, as represented in the garden, I wonder – what does my greedy dream mean? Does my soul experience the same limitations that my physical garden experiences? Is “space” limited in my soul?

Sadly, I think sometimes I am much less greedy for color and life in my soul than I am in my garden. I so easily settle for a limited palette. Oh I pray, read the Bible, ponder both the joys and sorrows I see around me, but I may I quietly examine a single insight, one flower, rather than running forward to see more and more glimpses of God. Those who are greedy for more color in their souls seem somehow out of control, too much. I hold back, careful, wanting but not wanting to seem like I am wanting.

I read the mystics like Teresa of Avila and I see her experience of union with God – she held nothing back – she experienced all the colors, and even experience beyond description: “While seeking God in this way, the soul become conscious that it is fainting almost completely away, in a kind of swoon, with an exceeding great and sweet delight.” (From The Life of Teresa of Jesus)

Even as I experience spring in my garden, and in my wanderings around the city, I want to want more in my soul. May this wanting will be the first step – to create open space to see more, to expand my palette, to not settle for a little god, but to be greedy for the majesty and awe of the God of the Universe. I want to be greedy in my soul, not just my garden.

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