Step into My Garden

Download audio file

Subscribe to the audio podcast

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Step Into My Garden

Freedom has no bounds…
it grasps this experience of life,
but does not cling to it.
This precious gift of freedom
is our true spiritual essence,
and on its wings
we can soar magnificently within this
realm of wonder.
-Richard Oddo

Have you ever watched a beautiful and abundant garden go untended? Watched as it slowly changed from a place of unsurpassed aliveness, symmetry, and color into a derelict place, uncared for…abandoned. Whenever I have watched this happen, I have felt a sense of sadness, for the garden and for the gardener. I’ve asked myself the question, “What could have happened that the gardener, who obviously cared so much, stopped caring?”

As a child, to answer the question, I created mysteries in my mind, conjuring up haunted houses and ghosts and things. As an adult, I have my own experience.

We live out of town and have a large garden, fifty by sixty feet, with an eight-foot deer fence and grass pathways that separate it into quarters and to make it easy to walk through. I used to spend almost my whole summer out there. First creating a blueprint, a design for where each flower and vegetable would grow best, and then digging, enriching the soil, planting, watering, watching things grow, and enjoying the harvest—wheelbarrows full, corn twelve feet tall! The flowers were a riot of color; I would cut armloads to bring into the house.

Our garden was a place where each of us could go and just be quiet, go and feel restored and a part of something magical. I can’t tell you how many times the boys would disappear for a while and suddenly return with a green ring around their mouth from eating young onions, or holding a half eaten carrot in their hand, one more sweet crunchy bite. Or I would take my drawing things and sketch my thoughts for the next year’s garden. Peaceful time-outs to feel the sun and watch the miracle of growing plants.

When our son, Matthew, died in 1986, we were devastated individually and as a family. Before his death, we did social things with our friends fairly often—dinners, playing games, going to the coast. Matt’s death was the end of that. We didn’t talk about it; we closed the door on our social life and stayed home. We closed the garden gate too and left our garden untended, we left it alone. It became a sad place. Unconsciously, we turned from friends and the garden and turned to each other, tending and nurturing each other and ourselves instead of working with the earth.

We began planting seeds of a different sort. The seeds of compassion and forgiveness, the seeds of letting go and loving unconditionally, the seeds of strength and vulnerability, tiny bits of life sustaining us. These seeds were watered with tears and nourished by long talks and silent hugs. These seeds have born the fruit of deeper love and respect than we ever knew was possible.

This summer, three years later, we planted a garden again. And instead of me being the main gardener, my husband, Kyle, is planting the seeds and watering. The garden is bursting into life again with the tending of his gentle hands. When I walk into the garden now, I feel many things. I feel the immediate delight of being in the midst of growing things. I feel proud of Kyle and touched by his nurturing. I feel inspired by the tenacity of life, stretching for the light. And I realize that is what we have been doing to heal—nurturing each other and stretching toward the light.

Remember my question, “What could have happened that the gardener, who obviously cared so much, stopped caring?” We never stopped caring for the garden; it is just that we cared so much for Matthew and each other that all our energy went into our grieving, letting go, and healing. There was nothing left.

Standing in the fragrance of warm tomato vines, sweet peas, roses, and row upon row of growing things again, I hear the flowers and lettuces whispering that healing is a long and gentle process…be patient with yourself.

I am so grateful that I am surrounded by an abundant world where life springs forth eagerly when we tend our gardens and our spirits with care.

Won’t you come into the garden? I would like my roses to see you.
—Richard B. Sheridan


1. Looking back at your life, find a time when you stopped taking care of some- thing that was important to you because something happened that deserved your complete attention. What deserved your full attention, and what did you stop doing?

2. What did you start doing to take care of your strongest priority?

3. What was the impact on your life?

4. Is there anything important for you to reclaim now?

I encourage you to share your responses to the reflection questions in the comments section.

With love and gratitude,
Kris King

| More

3 Responses to “Step into My Garden”

  1. leah g says:

    i have left untended many of my heart’s desires – making art, living as much of my life outdoors as possible, eating from my yard, building a community, participating in a spiritual community… doing so, i feared i would never pick them up again, that i left them too long. becoming whole is my strongest priority, and i feel so much more, and so alive, because of that focus. i have been tending and nurturing myself, healing in ways i never imagined i might. as that deep healing progresses, parts of my life i left untended are indeed growing again! i feel so blessed to have been able to leave them while i took care of myself, and to remember that they’ll flourish in time.

  2. Curtis Chase says:

    My time with this subject is fairly recent actually. My boyfriend and I broke up about a year and a half ago and I was devastated. My Mom passed just 2 months later very suddenly and I was devastated again. This all came after putting 2 dogs down due to old age. I had my little Buddy for 17 1/2 years. With all this loss, I was LOST. I can remember waking up in the middle of the night having nightmares that I was the only person left on the planet. I never felt so alone. It has been the worst time of my whole life and very frustrating.

    What I left untended was me. I stopped caring and just gave up on myself and any thoughts of ever being happy or content again. I fell into grief like I had never known. That led into a deep depression that I am just now starting to pull out of. I cannot say that I am where you are with all this as I still feel very sad very often, AND time is mending the scars. I have begun caring again, a little, and this has helped me a ton. I am a different person because of all these things. Pain is my biggest motivator for change and I am making a lot of changes for me lately. I am looking forward to continued growth here and I thank you Kris for being a part of that, AGAIN!!! You are an angel in my life!

  3. Alice Saul says:

    You have lightened my heart today! Chris Kohl, my daughter, started Chemo yesterday and our hearts are all heavy with worry. She refuses to be down trodden . We all are thrilled with your garden and the love you so freely give to us one and all! Thank you for giving of your self, and your time and energy. We are grateful and strive to be there physically, spiritually, and have positive thoughts, prayers and mind set to know we can win ,Win,WIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Reading about your wonderful garden has renewed the clarity of my trust in myself and
    the power of closeness, and love of my family, while we soar over this hurdle placed in our path.
    Love and gratitude
    Alice Saul