When I began gardening some 25 years ago, my first major challenge was when I took over a yard that had been buried under grass for many years. A neighbor told me that the previous owners of the house, who had lived there for over 35 years, had planted a huge, beautiful garden that was the talk of the town. Even folks just driving by would stop and ask if they could look at it. Over time, after the house had been sold to younger folks who did not wish to put in the sweat equity necessary to keep it up, the majority of the yard was turned into a large grassy plot with just a few flower beds surrounding the back of the house, and those were mostly bulbs and shrubs.
In the beginning I stayed pretty much within the borders of the already established flower beds, clearing out weeds and planting some annuals to give the beds more color once the spring flowers had finished blooming. Then I began to investigate other areas where I could create new beds and add more character to the yard. I started with digging up the grass along the side of the garage to put in some daises, begonias, and foxgloves. In less than a week after I had cut through the sod and exposed the dirt underneath, I began to see shoots and vines coming up from previously covered over plants. The same neighbor who had informed me about the yard's history told me that there used to be lovely climbing vines where I had cut out the grass. These poor things had been sleeping quietly all these years waiting to come back. In a sense, these perennials (plants that come back every year as opposed to annuals which only last a one season) were the legacy left behind by the previous owners just waiting to share their beauty with future generations.
I often think about that discovery whenever I ponder what kind of a legacy I want to "plant" in my life for those that come after me. How do I want to be remembered, and what seeds do I want to bloom in my children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and beyond? Here are a few of the "plants" I am doing my best to grow:
1. Compassion - Whenever I see someone in need, I always tell myself: "There but for the Grace of God go I." We have to care about each other. We have to understand what it's like to "walk a mile in their shoes" and treat them as we would want to be treated.
2. Kindness - A slightly different variation on compassion, this flower is one we can give to everyone, every day, regardless of their circumstances. We can hold a door, let someone cut in front of us on line, smile at a cashier or wait staff person, pay someone a compliment, or simply say, "Thank You."
3. Gratitude - This one needs to grow into a huge hedge that surrounds our lives. "Gratitude is the Abracadabra of manifestation," says spiritual teacher and psychic medium Colette Baron Reid. The more we are grateful for what blooms in our lives, the more blooms we have to be grateful for!
4. Integrity - When we can stand in our personal truth and align our beliefs with our behavior, we can grow authentic, beautiful lives.
5. Love - This is actually not a seed. It's the medium in which we grow the other four and everything else we want to bloom in our lives. If we ask ourselves "what would Love do" before speaking or acting, our inner gardens will always be nourished.
So this, I hope, is the legacy that I work every day at planting and tending. I do this not only in my day-to-day behavior, but in my work as well. Every word I write and publish comes from my wish to serve others by encouraging them to find their own seeds to plant, and to grow a beautiful, authentic and happy life. I do this in gratitude for the life I have been given, and my love for the gift of writing that Source has seen fit to bestow upon me.
What will you plant in your legacy garden? You'll have to work hard at digging up the unwanted sod that has become so deeply rooted in your yard (what no longer serves you?), watering with gratitude and nourishing it with love, but all that work will be worth it when you see what grows! Happy planting!
And so it is.