In Pursuit of my African Dream – My life is a reflective garden

Christmas Bear

As the year slowly draws to a close, I am in a reflective mood. Listening to the sounds of the Boney M Christmas Collection CD while driving in my car, my mind goes back 30 years when we, as a family, ventured out on our first camping trip, caravan in tow behind us as we listened to the very same music which was, of course, on cassette tape at the time and not on CD.

It took me back to sitting around a camp fire at night in a caravan park in Knysna – friends and acquaintances made, memories of a holiday romance that never went any further than being just that – a holiday romance. I think of “him” often and wonder if he still remembers me and the good times we shared? I know that “he” is happily married with two children (last time I heard), hence the reason why I will not give in to the urge to try to find “him” even though I have a pretty good idea of where I can find “him”. I am reminded of how various people we meet along life’s journey help to shape us into who we are now.

Maybe life is like a garden, is what I’m thinking right now. Maybe relationships are cultivated like flowers or vegetables. I like to see things as growing, flowering and producing.
What makes a garden? Can you walk into a shop and buy a ready-made garden? I don’t think so. You need to grow them . . . everything that grows, starts off as a tiny seed hidden from view. This leads me to asking myself three questions:

1) What seeds have already come to life in me?
2) What seeds remain hidden in me, waiting for the right time to grow?
3) Are the current conditions in my life the right conditions for some more seeds to start growing?

Gardens need water and sunshine. These are gifts which cannot be bought and cannot be demanded, but we can recognise and receive them. Where does this water and sunshine come from?

• The love of a friend?
• Time alone in a special place?

Gardens need pollination by insects, birds and the wind if they are to grow and flourish, so, within our personal gardens, there must be movement . . . exchange – how does this happen?

• By talking and listening to friends?
• By taking part in a group?

Gardening involves preventing infection and attack to protect what is growing. This can be hard work and does not always go according to plan.

• What might damage the growth in me?
• What needs protecting and who can help me?

Gardens need both cultivation and wildness. A garden which is too wild may not be too hospitable or practical. A garden which is too cultivated loses its connection with the rawness of nature.

• How and where do I find the balance in my life?
• How can I change this for the better?

Gardening involves cutting back and taking out. Sometimes the action seems drastic and we wonder if we have gone too far.

• What needs pruning or shaping in my life?
• Are there things I regret having cut out of my life? Why?

What type of garden do I have at this point in my life?
• A neglected garden – overgrown or healthily wild?
• A kitchen garden – full to overflowing, producing food for many?
• A formal garden – impressive, providing space for others?
• A suburban garden – both beautiful and practical?
• A cottage garden – modest, but with the potential for abundance?
• A secret garden – a place known only to me?
• Another type of garden, perhaps?

Which of the following statements make sense to you as you read this?
• I want to be hospitable, to bring people together
• I know I want to take these fences down but I’m not sure I can
• There is a part of me which will be amazing when it flowers
• I want to play and be full of joy
• I was excited about one bit but then it got damaged
• Some parts are not growing well, but I don’t know why
• I was going to sort out this bit but something else cropped up
• These parts are growing fast and will offer much food

As I continue to reflect on my life and this past year, I am reminded of the poem “Life is but a weaving” (also known as The Tapestry poem) by Corrie Ten Boom which goes like this . . .

Life is But a Weaving
Corrie Ten Boom (The Tapestry Poem)

My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He weaveth steadily.

Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.

Not ’til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas
And reveal the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful
In the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned

He knows, He loves, He cares;
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives the very best to those
Who leave the choice to Him.
(Corrie Ten Boom often used this poem as she described a Tapestry that hangs currently at the museum. I challenge you to read, “The Hiding Place).

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