Years ago, when my teacher Ramtha taught us to grow our own garden, he said: “ Gardeners hold the key to the secrets of life. “
I was a
beginner student of the School of Ancient Wisdom then. Those words just did not
“sound right”. Grow my own garden? Why? People brought me flowers all the
time, why would I want to grow my own garden? Plus, I lived in New York then and
growing a garden was just not my lifestyle. There was no space, no time in my
reality to grow a garden.
I did not know that in less than 10 months of earthly time, everything in my reality shattered. I left New York unexpectedly. There I was, living in a small town in the North Pacific, far away from everything that highlighted my identity as an excellent dancer from New York. No ballet classes, no rehearsals, no producers’ meetings – nothing, except a knowingness that senses the unseen.
As a traveler, I am comfortable with change. When there is no money in your pocket, you might get smarter, younger, and more flexible. The identities that we hold onto are often the things that made us disappointed with life, confused, aging… and sick.
Very soon, I met my first hands-on gardening teacher, Maggie. Maggie wanted someone as her helper in her nursery job.
— “ It is a very hard job, physically demanding. Maybe you can try it out next week.”
Her elfish eyes glitter green amusement. Another shape-shifter was she indeed. In one breath, I found her elfish eyes had turned into the eyes of grandma elephant scanning me closely — sharper than a gamma ray. I did not realize the significance of this woman in my life. I was happy about an opportunity to work.
— Physically demanding? Good, I take it. It will be an opportunity to practice my dance disciplines while doing the job. The harder it challenges me, the stronger I shall become — I was excited with this new adventure.
Working in the nursery could be romantic. That romance vanishes quickly when the trucks come for you to load and to unload. Everything that was lovely and beautiful moments ago becomes nasty now — when you are really tired. No matter how wonderful it felt, there are moments you just want to quit — very much like the training that every good dancer goes through. Nobody forces you to continue, you could quit anytime you want. By the end of the day, you transform from your old limitations into someone who is lighter, happier, and wiser.
Maggie taught me how to cut back the young flowers and overgrown branches to make the roots and stems stronger. This was not unlike going through the ballet barre discipline just to grow roots without emotional indulgence and premature interpretation. She also taught me how to break apart the roots when transplanting from a small pot to a bigger pot. The reason for this was that the roots would not stay in their “small pot reality.”
Again, I could relate this easily with how we integrate new disciplines into the old, or how our minds expanded when we travel to different cultures and different mentalities. We have to break loose our old roots to create new roots for the bigger realities… The next thing is to water the plants thoroughly after the transplanting … My soul was talking to me again: “This is like how you water yourself after the integration. Integrity comes from nurturing your inner world like the way you water the plants – thoroughly.”
By the end of the day, we were covered with soil — dirty and smelly. I had volumes of conversations with the “I“ who lived within. Happy and refreshed like the plants we just watered, I began to realize slowly — what the Garden of Eden was about.
Growing a garden is like growing the wisdom in our souls through dreaming, conceiving the seeds, laboring, experiencing and owning the wisdom.
Everything grows, bitter or sweet. A piece of young fruit starts bitter and sour, it sweetens as it matures. I thought of the bitter/sour wounds in my past.
Where were those confusions?
Where were those self-imposed dramas?
the Wind, gone with the tears, gone with the smallness, gone with yesterday.
Every morning the garden looks different than the night before. Every moment we
discover some new shoots, new blooms, new insects coming into being. Then the
Wind comes, blowing away some dead leaves, some old wounds, some old views.
Ram taught us how the nature goes to sleep in the wintertime, and how the trees and flowers create their new lives in their dreamtimes… I realized that it was wise of me to let go the old leaves in my winters, and to keep on dreaming of the endless springs in the days to come.
What did I have to lose?
— Illusions of self-importance and some cut flowers from those who adored me.
I am the creator of my own garden now.
There is much more joy in adoring a tiny drop of morning dew than in being adored by others.
The secrets of life are given to the ones who choose to live. Everything is interconnected. Gardening, dancing, writing…
I have never left New York, I take New York into my heart wherever I go. I have always been dancing freely, in the theater or in my garden.
I have always been connected to my loved ones unconditionally, no matter how far away we are from one another
— Heart of Mine …
“Heart of Mine” was another dance-theater work of mine. I did not realize then that all the dance-theater pieces would become new seeds, new springs, and new timelines in the garden of my soul.
We did not have money then. One of my best dancers, Josie Conte, had just given birth to a baby girl. When I visited her and the newborn, Josie was a new person whom I had never known before. Sitting like a cow-goddess on the edge of her birthing bed exhibiting her will and power, she wanted to be in my new production.
“ … but you just had a baby…” Uttered like a faithless churchgoer, I thought she was a little “ mad “. The baby Alexandra was beaming love at me as if she wanted to perform too. I did not know how to say no. I said — “I will call you.”
As soon as I got on the subway, I saw in my mind that both Josie and Alexandra should be in my new work. I saw we were dancing around the baby and offering our baby to humanity … I saw the portrait of a new race, a new humanity… I saw the audience turning into children…
Yes, Josie and Alexandra had to be in this new production. Not only that, they should be the focus point of this inspiration. The next question — where to get money for the costumes and studio rental, theater, and …
Josie said: ”I shall donate the costumes. People gave us too many diapers, we could turn some of them into costumes.” Of course, how could I forget that we were Cinderella come to life. Within a few hours, my humble living room became the factory for sewing, dyeing, designing…
Dyeing the diapers with the colors of sunrise and sunset, twisting different shapes of “ the fabrics “ into different styles of our dreaming garments, we were like the greatest designers that ever existed. By the end of the day, we were all gods and goddesses from another realm. Garmented in sunrise and sunset, our radiance would blind those who hate dreamers like us. The baby Alexandra sat there like a queen. She knew this work was about her, and she was ready for it.
There were some people who liked me but not my work. There were others who liked my work but not me. When “Heart of Mine” was presented in the theater, many prejudices melted away. We were children in all ages. We were one.
Heart of Mine is an endearing term for our loved ones, for our heart’s desires, for our dreams, and for the Gardens of our souls.
Turning pieces of diapers into the garments of gods and goddesses is no different than turning wasteland into gardens.
In this field, I shall share with you things I know about gardens and gardening — both inner and outer. In closing this writing, I cannot wait to see Maggie’s saint-like, mischievous smiles when I show her this field.
Thank you, Maggie!
Gardeners do hold the key to the secrets of life.
Ram is right.
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I am a Map to your Secret Garden ...
music credit: Healing music from the CD Cascade by Laraaji