Let us tend to the harsh light and the soft darkness.
A wilting, variegated Rudbekia. Yellow petals with a deep crimson color spreading outward from the ovary. I removed large amounts of sun-baked clay with a pick-axe. Inches at a time; it was slow, drawn out work underneath the fire-warmed skies of western Idaho. The helping hands of my children providing company to the display of their father making sharp stabs into the ground; feeling up wheelbarrows of granite and clumps of cooked earth. Holes were filled with rich, dark soil - a mixture of compost, chicken manure, and wood chips. Bits and pieces of the removed clay added back in so as to support the transplant. The ground needed to have something it could recognize, even though the new ground could sustain and nourish life. Similar to the process of a heart transplant. I wonder how this is for the experiences settled in a person that contain painful emotions. Maybe that is what therapy is - honoring what is there - the resilience that can be found in any story - allowing this to mix with new material; a turning over of a life amidst sometimes adverse conditions. The garden filled with perennials that could thrive in drought and extreme temperature conditions - hot and cold. Pineapple Popsicle, Russian Sage, Cone Flower, Hyssop, Prairie Grasses, Lavender, and several types of Succulent plants. And a Rudbekia. My daughter and I picked it because of its variegation - or in other words, the imperfections on the plant - the mixture of color that spread across the silky, vulnerable petals. This one was planted late in the day in the early evening sun. And it immediately began to wilt. Water and organic fertilizer had nothing on it. We stood back, filled with something, assuming it was dying. We visited the gardner the next morning, and she pruned off the stems that in her words, “contained no cellular life.” She said we had planted it at the worst time of day - in the “harshest of light.” What a thought - that light, like darkness, can be harsh.
This left nothing but the roots and one tiny baby receptacle seedling. She said, “plants want to live.” We brought our delicate plant home and waited until late in the evening, under a canopy of quiet, star filled sky; carefully placing her in the ground and surrounding her roots with soil and mulch. Letting silence and the soft darkness do the rest.
Our lives are all murky, magnificent, malleable and full of meaning.