Gardening and Spirituality

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Mary Cibulka Brown is happiest when there’s dirt under her fingernails.

MOTHER EARTH NEWS’S Garden Essay Contest, titled “Why We Dig Gardening,” prompted many responses — here is one of our favorites!

There is a kind of spirituality I find only by gardening. A special peace and solitude, a feeling of being one with the universe. The sun, warm on my back. The feel of soil, sifting through my gloveless fingers. The scent of earth and water. Tiny seeds carefully placed in pockets of moist compost, to emerge days later as wee green leaves. A rebirth each spring.

Optimism is indispensable to having a garden. There must be trust that insects and critters will take no more than their share and confidence that there will, indeed, be a harvest. Each seed and every transplant is a gesture of faith. The birds and worms frequently get more peas than we do. Even so, I will plant them again next year.

I can think of no better feeling than serving a meal made with my own fresh produce. I await the first radish each year with the same eagerness I had as a child. The last tomato picked before frost always makes me a bit sad. I’ve spent many winter evenings engrossed in seed catalogs. My husband says I seem happiest with dirt under my fingernails. I must say, I think he’s right.

Mary Cibulka Brown
Eastsound, Washington