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What my Garden Actually Needs

I enjoy gardening. I'm new to it and plodding my way up the learning curve. This was my second growing season and my garden experienced much better results than last year. Last year as a freshman grower I naively thought "plant seeds, add water, enjoy bounty of veggies and berries". A lot of my crop died and nothing thrived. I drowned my very un-thirsty tomatoes and Scrub Jays feasted on my strawberries.

Reflecting back I learned several things about what plants like and what likes them. My most valuable lesson that year was that the grower has an adversarial relationship with nature. Nature doesn't care about the ideals I hold for my garden. In fact it seems to want to compete with me for the harvest. A sad but true reality. So this year as a sophomore grower, I approached my garden with a better plan, more understanding of the crops I had chosen and was more intentional about watering, disease and pests. My plants did much better! I actually harvested things and made stuff that I ate with my family. It was fun.

However, as before, nothing thrived. Many of my strawberries were eaten by slugs. My pumpkins fell victim to powdery mildew. I had expanded my knowledge from the previous year and was more intentional about certain things in general, but I wasn't really paying attention. I was prepared for the wrong pests and diseases which moved in under my un-watchful eye.

Reflecting back I learned a healthy garden requires presence. I began spending time with my plants actively "noticing" them.

But by this time powdery mildew was already in my pumpkin roots, and a flush of strawberries had been slug plundered.  If I had been noticing earlier, I would have realized that the new plant insights I held to combat pest and disease weren't the specific, nor immediate ones I needed. My crop turned out ok but I still had to fight for it. Next year will be better I hope, but still not perfect I suspect. I'm headed in the right direction at least. 

What my plants need from me is to pay attention, much like my life.

As in gardening, I've "noticed" in my own life that unless I take time to pause and reflect back on an experience after having it, I never truly reap the full benefit of what that experience had to offer me. The events of my life form and change me, but largely outside of my awareness and without my input and response. If I merely live my life as one moment leading into the next, and never reflect upon the experiences, then the manner in which I grow and develop in life happens at random to a degree. Sometimes for good, sometimes less so. This work of reflectively noticing and integrating will be necessary for me if I wish to be an active agent in the life experiences which are forming and changing me daily.  I think the Enneagram Innerwork Retreat will be a chance for people to come and reflect upon how their own response to experience has formed their way of perceiving and acting in the world. My hope is that we can create a space where someone might stumble into and "aha" moment, some signature truth about themselves, and be able to make sense of it within the framework of their living story.  If that happens, then they can't help but live with greater awareness and freedom in their future experiences. This potential to become something truer and more awake to life is simply part of what we all deeply crave and struggle to grasp. My experience has shown me that doing this kind of inner work, while often challenging, has been uniquely surprising and reinvigorating. It feels good to wake up and find oneself refreshed! 

Peace to you,

Ross Click

Ross Click is a spiritual director whose passion is to help people get to the center of themselves where they can heal internal conflicts, clarify issues, values and identity, and unfold into their purpose. Ross lives in Newberg, OR with is wife and 2 daughters. He enjoys spending his free time adventuring with his family, reading and woodworking.


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