- The growing and gathering of herbs and other wild plants; the practice of wildcrafting.
- A metaphor for the creative spirit that is allowed to grow and flourish according to her true nature.
The earth was waking up and so was I. The smell of dirt, the sticky air, greening buds and birdsong all stirred my heart toward its own rebirth. The previous year had been frenzied with intense life, love and letting go lessons. There was a band break-up, a yoga training intensive, lots of travel, lots of house guests, a waning business partnership, a wedding and to top it all off a health collapse that left me struggling with my energy and rebuilding my immune system. I was ready to find peace, presence and balance in the new, green growth of spring.
I decided I was going to spend every possible moment I could outside, soaking up the glorious sunshine, communing with nature and healing my body and soul. Out of that heady spring fever grew my first ever (very own) garden. After several years of failed attempts I was determined that this would be my spring.
I watched permaculture videos and sought out websites and articles about gardening and sustainable urban farms. I took pictures of my yard in the morning afternoon and evening, so I could determine the sunniest spot for my garden patch. I rigged a compost barrel out of an old storage bin with the bottom kicked out of it. I studied lists of native plants and fell asleep, tablet in hand, listening to tutorials on exactly how to grow the perfect garden.
My husband, Josh convinced me to start small, so I decided on designing an herb spiral. I used what I could find to make my herb bed; random bricks, rocks and sticks. I bought my herb babies at the farmer's market with my organic compost. My four year old son, Cadence brought out his little shovel and claw and we planted one of each rosemary, mint, lavender, lemon balm, horehound, chamomile, oregano, summer savory, sage and bright marigolds. We got our hands and knees and feet dirty. We patted the dirt around each plant and whispered, "I love you, baby. Grow!" It was a soggy spring and my healing garden flourished.
Everything else flourished, too; the grass, the trees, the moss, the clover, and my spiritual practice. I spent mornings out on the deck or in the dew soaked grass meditating and singing mantra. I sat in sun worship with my notebook and prayer beads. I moved in earth reverence with my asana, strengthening body and mind as I returned home to my mother, Nature.
It was in these moments of silent cultivation that I began to hear Her voice. Like seeds sown in my loamy mind she whispered, “Give into your true nature. Be rooted Where you are. Grow baby, grow!”
I became in awe of the weeds and things that grew up and around my tiny garden and I started to notice the wild edibles and the mossy patches around my yard. I found myself marking off patches with rocks and sticks so they wouldn't be mowed down. I took my son for walks in the little woods behind our house and marveled at the twisted and wild beauty of nature, allowed to grow when left to her own devices.
I thought a lot about my life, this free spirit, confined to this body, this patch of experiences, this particular set of circumstances. I’ve traveled the less worn path, curious about where the nature nurtured, shine dappled, tracks would take me. I’ve always found my way. The destination is not a clear plan, rather a clarity of self knowing. At times I could have been more focused, more alert, more prepared when the darkness fell. But the sun inevitably rises and I continue to awaken. I’ve learned to survive in the dark, shadowy places. Plant me anywhere and I will grow. I am wildcrafted, a survivor by nature.
Fast forward a few years and life has led me to the densely populated metropolis of Chicago. Suffering from root shock, I’ve had some dark moments when I’ve wondered if I really would survive. The hovering concrete like a canopy of alien trees too often block my ability to feel the earth beneath my feet. The low and constant rumble and buzz of city bustle challenges my stability every day. This is my test. Am I the devotee to Mother Nature and Higher consciousness that I believe myself to be? Where will I sink my roots, in fear or in the love for life that nourishes my purpose. Deeper and deeper every day, I have to make a choice. It’s not easy. I have to push through the pavement cracks like wild thistle asserting my intention to be grounded, to be still and unwavering in Her presence.
And make no mistake, She is here in the tangled vines climbing crumbling, brick walls. And She is here in the feirce wind, Her laughter, as She blows the snow sideways. She is in the patch of sky peering down between skyscrapers, and in the places where years and years of rainfall has worn patterns into the concrete; just as rivers carve valleys. And She is undoubtedly here in the faces of so many beautiful souls surviving and thriving in this wild and unrested place.
As long as Mother Nature insists and persists so will I. I will insist that my mind be quiet as the train roars. I will persist in finding peace amidst the noise and chaos. I will insist on sending my light before me and honoring the connections I make with other human souls, however brief. And I will rest my bare feet in a pot of sun baked river rocks that sits beside a mother mantis who found my tiny rooftop garden a suitable nest. I will grow my roots and craft my life according to my true nature, a wild and free spirit, present and devoted to the beauty of life, willing a way to thrive in the midst of constant change. And I will trust the Great Mother, who cultivates me with her wisdom and nourishes me with divine grace, showing me that I am always exactly where I need to be as long as I am growing.