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  • ryanknudson

Gardening’s Great Gifts

My dad is someone I would consider to be a master gardener. I can only compare his backyard and skill in gardening to Manito Park, an extremely popular and pristine manicured oasis on the South Hill of Spokane. He can grow just about any vegetable or fruit tree he has planted, much to my chagrin as a boy because vegetables were not my favorite.

Some of things I learned though from his love for gardening and planting as well as just reflecting on the process itself, lends to many life lessons and principles. First, gardening is about bringing something to life, helping it grow and mature, then reaping the benefits of the plant and process. For some it’s the nutrients we receive when we eat of it’s bounty, strengthening our bodies and our immune system. From others it is the gift of beauty and tranquility, where the morning dew glistens on the soft petals of a begonia and shines the colorful rays of the sun.

Another aspect about gardening that finds applicability to life is in the fact that gardening requires you to connect: connect with the soil, the patterns of weather and other environmental factors. You need to become aware and mindful of the conditions that are around you and those that will affect the potential growth of your planting. Your efforts will be meaningless and unproductive if you do connect with what you are doing.

Which leads me to the next point: cultivation. Gardening takes cultivation, taking the time needed to put into the process of growth and also the time it takes to remove things that would inhibit that growth. Gardening is an investment of time, energy, effort, and love. Building and maintain relationships with those we love requires the same kind of investment.

I’ll never forget when I heard the statement “To be successful in life you need to be successful in your relationships.” I find this statement becoming truer and clearer each day. Like gardening our lives require the same investment and time to grow ourselves and most importantly our relationships. In doing what I do every day, I find that it is the relationships I have with my wife, my kids, friends, my team and the residents that truly mean the most to me, bringing me joy and fulfillment. Taking time each day to connect with those around, being mindful when they need a hug or just need to “talk it out” or even need to hear a good joke or share a good cry, all brings purpose to my life and I hope some measure of fulfillment to others lives as well.

This is hitting a little close to home today as I am writing this after the loss of three precious people in my life. Each had their unique way of brightening my day and I can only trust I brightened theirs as well. We all can learn from a simple thing such as gardening. Hopefully we can grow and understand the need to connect, cultivate, invest our time, energy and our hearts into those around us. As for us here at Willow Grove, come outside with us and join in our gardening, both literally and figuratively.

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