I Fall To My Knees


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I’m reading a book by Norman Vincent Peale: Positive Thinking Every Day. It has a little prayer or meditation or positive message for each day of the year. I feel, most of the time, that I could use more positive thoughts in my life! Actually, the book is one I bought for my mother. It is inscribed, wishing her “Merry Christmas and much love, 1996.” When Mom died, my sisters set it aside for me.

Though it makes me feel good to think that as I  turn the pages I am following her movements, I’m not really sure she ever read it. Probably, though.

Mom was a positive-thinker, a believer in miracles, a pray-er. She had so many children, I suppose she had to be.

My most sincere prayers have been for the health and well-being of my children. Or dogs.

For the most part, I’m not much on praying, though. When friends are ill or having difficulties, I’m careful to offer “best wishes” or “good thoughts” rather than prayers. Worse than not praying, I figure, is offering to pray and then not doing it. I cut my losses.

Even so, I’ve been spending a lot of time on my knees.

These longer, warmer days provide a chance to work in the garden.

Snowdrops are wildly blooming along the edges of my flower beds. Clusters of Narcissus and Daffodils show all shades of yellow. Tulips have fat buds at the top of their stems. Iris and Day Lilies have presented their fan-shaped leaves. Through it all are layers of wet brown leaves that fell from the maple trees last fall, long bunches of pale Day Lily stalks and leaves and the remains of the fall-flowering plants. Together, they hide the progress of persistent spreading weeds.

Every day I come home from work, stash my papers and bags, let the dogs out to enjoy the sunshine, and I drop to the ground. My tools are simple: one claw tool for loosening and lifting roots, one ratcheting pruner for wayward rose, grape or wisteria branches. The creaking, wobbly and rusty wheelbarrow stands nearby.

My rule is that I’ll work at least one hour, and fill the wheelbarrow at least once with debris.

First, I pull all the dead stuff away, working with my hands around stalks, raking with my fingers though the blooms. Then I tackle the weeds.

Years ago, when I had about four fewer jobs, and much more impressive gardens, friends would ask me to come over in the springtime, to look at their gardens, and help them determine what was a desired plant, and what was a weed. I couldn’t help. I don’t recognize every good plant, and I don’t know all weeds, especially in the springtime. My advise was this: “Pull what you know: pull the grasses; pull the dandelions. If you’re not sure about it, wait until you’re sure.” Weeds show their true nature soon enough.

That’s the way I do it. One at a time, I move the rocks that border the flower beds. Roots of grasses are visible there, as they try to move into the gardens. I dig in with my fingers. I try to use gloves, but can’t get a sense for what I’m doing, so I usually set them aside. I pull roots up one by one, and follow them to the end, or until they snap. When an area is clear, I move on to the next rock, and repeat the process.

When I am working at the hardware store, I’m often thinking of things I need to accomplish for the news magazine, or for the townships. When I’m driving to and from other obligations, I’m planning art projects or remodeling projects, or plotting where I’ll find time to get groceries or do a load or two of laundry. When I’m awake in the middle of the night, I’m running through to-do lists or writing articles and doing interviews in my head.

When I’m working in the garden, I’m hardly thinking at all. One leaf, one root at a time, I am in the moment. It’s the closest thing to a meditative experience in my life.

The entry for May 1st, in my little book of positive thoughts, says this:

The secret of prayer is to find the process that will most effectively open your mind humbly to God. So experiment with fresh prayer formulas. Practice new skills and get new insights.

May 7th, I have heard, is the National Day of Prayer.

If the sun is shining, I’ll be on my knees…with my hands in the dirt.


14 responses »

    • I love that entry, too, Tammy. Some, I have to admit, are a little over the top for my cynical nature…but good thoughts, anyway. Thanks for reading, and for your comments!

  1. A lovely and thoughtful post. I enjoyed this and although it inspires me, I no longer have the strength to work in the yard as I once did. This am I pulled a few weeds here and there and wove some passion vine tendrils through the chain link fence. I just stood for several minutes and looked over the butterfly patch to see what else I can plant in some empty spaces.

    I pray and I try to follow through as best I can and I do fall short for sure.

    • You only fall short because you set such high standards for yourself, I’m sure. Every year I find I have less strength, less stamina. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, admitting I can’t still do all that I once could. Thanks for reading, and for your comments!

  2. “Kiss of the sun for pardon.
    Song of the birds for mirth.
    You’re closer to God’s heart in a garden
    Than any place on earth.” Author: Dorothy Frances Gurney

    Your post made me think of this Garden poem that I think of when I’m gardening until all thoughts leave my head and I’m just in a state of Being — much like what happens when I’m meditating.

    I loved the quote for today from Power of Positive Thinking! Thank you.

    Happy and Peaceful gardening to you!

  3. I have the most awful brown thumb in the world, but Husby has a talent. He says too that he gets a sense of the spiritual when he’s working in the garden. Happy Spring!

  4. Cindy, there is something prayerlike it’s true about gardening, or at the very least spiritual. I love feeling the earth and smelling it. It’s so exciting to watch the first little green shoot push through and stretch in the sunshine. Lovely. When you talk about your mom I think of mine. The years are passing and I try to take every opportunity to be with her and share a memory. Very nice post!

    • Oh, that’s the best you can do…I wish I had taken more time to listen to and appreciate my mom while she was here. There is something very basic about working in the earth. It seems spiritual, but maybe it’s just closest to our human nature, tending the earth and the growing things.

  5. Cindy, it’s good to stop by and read your words. I always do enjoy how you write, how you share your world (on your knees or when standing up.) It’s probably late enough in the comments to confess a secret to you. I have trouble praying for others, too. It feels better to simply acknowledge that they are perfectly where they need to be in their lives. Maybe they are and maybe they aren’t, but the deepest part of me wants to believe that…

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