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This week in the garden


The back garden is slowly but surely yielding itself to the future shape I have envisioned for it. I am digging the walking paths, some in the form of modified on-contour swales, by hand. It is backbreaking, time-intensive work, but the process is as important as the end result (‘the journey is the destination’).

Every time I sink my shovel into the soil or plant a seed, it is a meditation. One reason I am such a slow gardener is that my thoughts are shared between the work I’m doing and what the work is doing for me. I often recite The Five Remembrances (or Recollections) as a way to be fully present and aware of how invasive my work is on the countless species who also call this particular piece of earth their home.

The Five Remembrances
as translated by Thich Nhat Hanh

1. I am of the nature to grow old. There is no way to escape growing old.

2. I am of the nature to have ill-health. There is no way to escape having ill-health.

3. I am of the nature to die. There is no way to escape death.

4. All that is dear to me and everyone I love is of the nature to change. There is no way to escape being separated from them.

5. My actions are my only true belongings. I cannot escape the consequences of my actions. My actions are the ground on which I stand.

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