My daughter and I had an interesting discussion yesterday regarding the occupations to which we are called and the methods by which we discern that calling. Often times, maybe most times, figuring out our direction is a lesson in trial and error, in patience and trust. Patience as we sift through the many "good things" from which we may choose and trust that the answers will materialize as we pay attention to the leadings that speak to us from within.
This matter has been echoing in my mind as I think about my gardening business. "Annie's Gardens" is a very small enterprise serving a handful of clients who need or want help with their properties. Some of my clients are older people who have loved gardens but are no longer able to care for their flowers and yards. Some have properties that are just too big to care for alone and appreciate a helping hand. Each family is different and it is a privilege to be involved in their lives and working among their plants. Truth be told, however, being a gardener is more than a privilege, it is the fulfillment of a long-time quest. For most of my adult life I have been searching for a means by which I could serve people or at least bring some good into their lives. The trouble was that most of what I have tried over the years has turned out to be more draining than fulfilling and I have realized that I was not suited to most of the roles I had assumed, good as my intentions may have been. Such is the usual outcome of working from what we think we 'should' be doing, rather than simply from who we are.
I have found that just by taking care of people's gardens I can bring beauty and joy to hearts who need it. And the reciprocal is also true. As I tend and care for their plants and soil my own spirit is blessed and fed, as well. A new project I'll be starting soon is a good example of how this works out. I have a dear friend who has a dear 90 year old mother who, though intellectually and emotionally alert, is seldom able to leave the confines of her home. But the fact that she can and does enjoy looking out her windows has been the recent inspiration for the new butterfly garden we are poised to install. As impatient as a child waiting to open an intriguingly wrapped present, I can't wait to see the transformation of that myrtle-covered patch of ground in front of the porch into the riotous color of blooms and wings. To know that my friend's mom will be able to watch the display from her indoor vantage point just makes me smile and gives me a sense of accomplishment and gratitude and even of giddiness. I believe it is safe to say that when one feels that way about their work chances are good that they are, indeed, working within their calling.
As a last thought...my favorite line from the whole Lord of the Rings series comes as Prince Faramir, having imprisoned Sam and Frodo in a cave while on their way to Mordor, questions Frodo. When Sam indignantly challenges Faramir's right to threaten Frodo, Faramir asks, "Who is this, your bodyguard?" And Sam belligerently declares, as though the answer should be obvious, "No, I am his gardener!" And indeed, who could be more noble, more steadfast and more faithful than he or she who tends the earth with deliberate care. "Tending the Garden" was our first charge and responsibility. No wonder I am at home there.