Surrender 126: No Ego, Just Magic

This afternoon I had the opportunity to plant flowers for my mom. This was an activity planned for last Saturday, before I was diverted to the hospital where Mom was being admitted with double pneumonia. As I arranged plants in various containers, I enjoyed visiting with my sweet mother, who was released from the hospital last night. She’s tired and still coughing and oh so happy to be home. 

I had a few plants left over, after filling Mom’s flower pots, that I took home with me. Nothing goes to waste around here. I added those begonias to the assorted remnants camped out on the picnic table in my backyard. 

After completing my day, which included delightful time with granddaughter Aubrey, I returned home, just as the sun was sinking. This is a magical time in the garden. It’s the cool of the day. I love wandering among the plants and containers. I only intended to water the transplants and the container plants. And then that little group of left over plants caught my attention. 

To me, the plants looked forlorn, not chosen for containers and creative projects. The last of the coleus, the leftover verbena in mismatched colors, the odd numbered begonias, a lone petunia. I wasn’t dressed for gardening, but the light was fading. I pushed up my sleeves and pulled my long hair back into a pony tail. And I was humming, rummaging through pots and containers, to see what I could create. 

As I worked, my hands digging in the rich dirt, I had a garden epiphany, a life epiphany. The plants simply did not care that they were the last to be planted. They didn’t feel forlorn or rejected or neglected. Those were old feelings of mine stirring. The last coleus, with its variegated leaves, looked strikingly beautiful in a copper container that I had forgotten about. 

And the three remaining gazania don’t mind sharing space with portulaca, a combo I’ve never considered. The two very different varieties of flowering plants aren’t competing, feeling horrified at being together in the old red and white enameled wash tub, or fighting to dominate. There’s no lack. They have all the nutrients, water and sunshine available to them that they need, and they are just being…being flowering plants, growing, stretching toward the sun, radiating beauty. 

The left over verbena don’t care what color their blooms are or how they are mixed together in the second enamel container. The red flowered verbena will be red, and the purple one, purple. And I am the only one who will be surprised to discover what color the “mystery” plants will be. All will offer exactly what they have to offer, without ego, without apology, without effort. 

As I finished up for the evening, leaving a few more plants to tuck into pots tomorrow, I thought about whether I can do the same…offer to the world exactly what I have to offer, without ego, apology or effort. Can I just be, as these plants do? How grateful I was for the realizations from the garden. And then I laughed, accepting that the plants don’t care whether I learn from them or not. They are what they are. They are mirroring my thoughts back to me and it is the Divine who whispers, “Cindy, consider the flowers…” 

There is a Zen saying that Alan Watts shares:

“The wild geese do not intend to cast their reflection; The water has no mind to receive their image.” 

They do what they do, beautifully. The plants do not intend to raise my awareness and enlarge my heart. They do what they do, beautifully. I am still and thoughtful and full of joy as the sun disappears and darkness falls. I am surrounded by deep magic. 

Surrender 124: Garden Meditation

Today I was intentional about spending time in my garden this evening. As I moved through the day, working this morning and visiting with my mom at the hospital, I considered how to best savor those moments. I was excited about planting and hanging the vintage cone colanders and creating a permanent space for the minnow bucket candle holder. 

I set that intention this morning and surrendered to it. During the day, as I was in the flow of possibilities, two other elements clicked into place, creating an amazing opportunity. I learned about gathas. And I looked at the online holiday site, curious about what unique celebration might be available today. 

Gathas (pronounced gattas) are short poems or verses that are recited during routine activities throughout the day. They are designed to return us to the present moment, helping us to be mindful and aware. In his book Peace is Every Breath, Thich Nhat Hanh writes, “When we settle into the present moment, we can see beauties and wonders right before our eyes. Reciting gathas is one way to help us dwell in the present moment.” In his book, Hanh includes gathas for many ordinary tasks, including gardening. 

When I looked up the unique holidays for today, I discovered that May 3 is Garden Meditation Day. It all came together…my desire to be in the garden this evening, the use of gathas to practice mindfulness in the present moment, and a celebration focused on meditating in the garden. Isn’t life beautiful?

Meditation doesn’t have to be practiced sitting in a lotus position with eyes closed. Meditation is the awareness of what’s going on, right now, in my body, in my breathing, in my feelings, in my world. Garden meditation is the act of focusing on what I am doing, moment by moment…digging, planting, creating, watering and even pulling weeds. As I garden, I don’t dwell on the garden of the past or project toward a garden of the future. I remain right here, in the garden of right now, enjoying each task. 

As I mindfully dwelled in my garden, I created little flower containers from the two vintage cone colanders. Greg secured the colanders to the wood fence, using heavy duty staples. I cut a 14″ round coco fiber liner in two and formed each half into a cone shape, which I then slipped inside each colander. I filled the containers with potting soil and tucked in white impatiens and trailing dichondra. I LOVE the finished look. These are so adorable and they were so easy to create. 

I filled two battered metal buckets with flowers, setting the containers on and near an old wooden chair. The colander planters are secured on either side of the chair. Above the chair, the minnow bucket hangs from a sturdy hook, completing that garden vignette. 

As I meditatively planted and watered, I mindfully recited gathas: 


I entrust myself to Earth/Earth entrusts herself to me/I entrust myself to the Divine/The Divine entrusts itself to me. 


Water and sun/green these plants/When the rain of compassion falls/even the desert becomes a vast fertile plain. 

Lighting the candle within the minnow bucket

Lighting this candle/offering the light to the Divine/the peace and joy I feel/brightens the face of the Earth

I am refreshed by my meditative time in the garden this evening. The gathas were simple and beautiful reminders that kept my awareness on what I was doing. And my creativity was fully engaged, free to play. It was the perfect end to the day. I look forward to writing my own gathas. However this one of Thich Nhat Hanh’s resonates:

Ending the Day

The day is ending/my life is one day shorter/Let me look carefully at what I have done/Let me practice diligently/putting my whole heart into the path of meditation/Let me live deeply each moment in freedom/so time does not slip away meaninglessly. 

Surrender 73: Wakey, Wakey

It seemed appropriate, on this first day of Daylight Savings Time, to putter in the garden. The weather continues to be warm, and even with the threat of rain and thunderstorms, I surrendered to the call of the outdoors. 


This time of year, as spring nears, there is much tidying to do in the garden. As plants die back in late fall, I leave the dry, brown stalks and leaves in place, to mark the locations of plants. Today, armed with long bladed shears and a white utility bucket, I moved from clump to clump, cutting down last year’s remnants and dropping them into the bucket. 
 No need for a garden hat today! 

I love being in the garden. Today I was delighted to see more plants pushing through the ground, waking from their long winter’s sleep. I glanced around occasionally, to make sure the neighbors weren’t watching, as I crooned to each tiny plant, “Hello! You are awake.” I touched the plants, smoothed mulch around them, cleared away debris. I’m very sensitive…to energy, to scents. These little herb and flower plants responded, I’m sure, by releasing their delicate aromas into the still, humid air. 

This is bliss, that I’m willing to share. 

Come with me, on a walking tour of my awakening paradise…




 German Garlic

 Bee balm



There were many more plants stirring in the garden, than those pictured above. I’ve quit being concerned that spring has arrived too early. It has. I’m trusting these little beauties know what they are doing. Like children who sometimes pop out of bed earlier than expected, these plants are awake. I’ll take care of them, joyfully.  

Fat drops of rain plopped onto my head, signaling the end of my garden puttering. I was content with what I accomplished today. I snapped a last picture, of the pair of metal cranes near the meditation area. I love having the cranes in the garden. They are, unexpectedly, a connection to Thirlestane Castle, in Lauder, Scotland. The castle has a pair of cranes that grace either side of the massive front door. 

I suddenly realized that my cranes did not have names. What an oversight on my part. I decided to give them Scottish names. Calder is a Scottish word that means “stream”. That fits a crane well and ties in with my word for this year. And the other crane is now called Ainslie, which means “meadow”. That’s close enough to a garden! 

Calder and Ainslie, thus christened, stand watch over my garden. Cranes are symbolic of happiness. How perfect, as sentinels of this place.