Teachings of a Zen Gardener

Our group of neighbors meets occasionally over coffee and cupcakes. I don’t remember the subject, but on this occasion our gardening expert had his turn to speak. The talk was related to love, and his view was that love involved giving.

As his example, he took the flowers of summer. They produce their seeds, containing the essence of themselves, and give them away. They send the seeds out into the world without any certainty of how many will land on fertile soil and sprout. They send their seeds out without knowing whether their efforts will be welcome or appreciated.

I’m unable to capture the effect this comparison had on members of the group. It was a profound insight into how we toil in all humility, without knowing if any of our efforts will be appreciated or welcome, or if any will land on fertile soil.

And yet we plug away day by day, week by week, with a small and not too sure faith that we are building something greater than ourselves.

The following week, our gardener friend brought in samples of seeds from his yard and garden. The bean seeds were interesting to look at. They were twisted, dried up husks that had split open. He explained that the husks twisted as they dried so that the seeds would spill out, hopefully planting themselves to lie dormant over winter, waiting for another spring.

He compared this to the stresses of life that make us twist and turn, but force us to relinquish and reveal our inner gifts.

We haven’t had any more homey show and tell programs since then, but it sure makes you look differently at the common seed.

This post was written for PickTheBrain by Laura A. Sosnowski


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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