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Lessons from the garden

Often when I get to this point in the year I find myself looking back and reflecting on how quickly the past twelve months have seemed to have passed by. But this year quite the reverse is true: I’m not wondering where all the time went, but pondering how many memories seem to fill the past 300 days. The snow, the passing of a loved one, travels in Arabia, the hard slog in the garden, friends visiting-visiting, the adoption assessments, the family holiday, a month of fasting, visiting friends…  It has been a busy year.

Where the garden is concerned, it appears to be a metaphor for my entire life. Keeping it under control and pulling it into shape requires hard work of the highest order. Whenever I neglect it, it is suddenly sprawling out of control until only another bout of hard slog will suffice. It can be a disheartening affair. In late spring the garden was a picture of beauty—and in some ways my heart was in reasonable shape too—but by the end of summer it was a mess once more, and so too was my soul. It could be that hard work on the land is some kind of treatment for my soul.

Transforming a garden path from this…

to this…

was backbreaking work. But it was worth it. In the solitude of the task, I was found conversing within, carrying me far from the lower calls of my self. And at the end of the day, there was no energy left to sin.

I remember the pride when I conquered the vegetable patch, eradicating every weed in the ground…

but alas, weeding is a constant task and within weeks the weeds were once more dominating the plot, my pride long forgotten, as in my heart.

But perhaps there is reason to be optimistic. We conquered that old, rotting out-house…

though sometimes anger was my fuel, not protein.

And though sometimes it seemed like a mountain too vast to climb…

…in time, with patience and perseverance, and hard work, the unconquerable became but a distant memory…

until at last we achieved our goal.

But more to the point was the realisation that the true beauty of the garden is from Allah.

We don’t make the flowers bloom or call upon the butterflies.

We try our best in life, of course, but true beauty comes from above. With this realisation comes immesaurable ease.

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3 Comments

  1. Assalamu Alaikum,

    Metaphors for life go over my head, but if you’re ever in the US in a year or 2, I will have to draft you to design and work on the garden for our (future) house. Your garden is beautiful!

  2. aiman

    “We don’t make the flowers bloom or call upon the butterflies.”

    Beautiful, and excellent work on the garden.

  3. RT

    Loved this read!

    I started work on the concept of The Garden about 6 years ago. Some of it, I tried to demonstrate in my artwork. But in the last few years I have not made much art but instead decided that to have a real taste of The Garden I need to get myself in it…so I started gardening the front patch. It’s increased my understanding alot; so much to learn from gardening – I need to get down to blogging some as most of it is still in my head!

    within weeks the weeds were once more dominating the plot, my pride long forgotten, as in my heart.

    Re Weeds: I noticed that the sun would burn some of the weeds which I didn’t get round to pulling out (especially if I was unwell). This highlighted to me that the ability to cleanse the heart comes from God Almighty, who can use any means to achieve His Decree 🙂

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