Lessons from the Garden


Darren Pries-Klassen

Darren Pries-Klassen, Executive Director
From the Corner Office

Whether we are under a snowfall warning or we are enjoying tulips poking their heads through the ground, the calendar tells us that Spring is officially here.  For me, this time of year always ushers in great optimism as the dormant ground becomes ready for another growing season. Of course, it doesn’t happen on its own. It takes work, planting, pruning, and pulling if we are to enjoy the aroma and beauty of summer blooms and foliage. I recently realized that the lessons learned during these Springtime preparations can extend far beyond the confines of our garden.

Plant

I love how newly turned soil is a blank slate. At this time of year, I’ll often take a risk and put in an annual I haven’t grown before but find particularly pretty or intriguing. Likewise, this is also the perfect season to ‘plant a new row’ in our lives. Communities put out new recreation catalogues offering fitness and arts programs for people of all ages, academic spring sessions begin, and the longer days provide more opportunities to get outside. Ask yourself, ‘What new ideas do I want to explore, and new activities do I want to try this Spring?’ Whether you sign up for a drawing class, add a nightly jog to your routine, or volunteer at the local seniors’ home, tackling something new starts with courageously taking that first step to try something you’ve never done before.

Prune

Gardeners prune plants while they’re still dormant so they can see the plant’s form and structure clearly while shaping it for better growth and production. Explaining the vital role of pruning his orchard, a fruit farmer once told me, “Darren, you can either grow fruit, or you can just grow wood.” This sage gardening advice applies to our lives, too. There’s no denying most of us are very busy with commitments and obligations that can leave us feeling overextended and unproductive. ‘Pruning’ these areas might mean dusting off an instrument and recommitting to practice a few minutes a day, intentionally putting aside the Xbox to spend time reading, or tweaking your current giving to be more thoughtful or more generous. What are some of overgrown areas of your life that might benefit from a little pruning?

Pull

Every garden has some deadwood. There are some plants that need to be pulled to make room for new growth. As much as it hurts to dig them up, it’s often the best thing for the longevity of the garden. Likewise, opportunities in our lives can become crowded out, whether we’re clinging to material things that might be better off outside our possession or stuck in the rut of habits or attitudes that hold us back. What are you hanging on to? Perhaps you need to donate that outfit that no longer fits (or maybe never did, but you always hoped it would) to someone who could really use it, or maybe you need to reduce your commitments to establish margin in your life.  Whether we’re breaking a bad habit, simplifying our smartphone apps, or decluttering our homes, pulling out those unproductive plants often renews our satisfaction with what we have, and allows us to flourish.

Whether we’re planting something new, pruning an area that has become overgrown, or strategically uprooting the old to make room for new growth, this season holds a bounty of opportunities. The lessons of the garden are clear. Spring has sprung. Now it’s our turn.

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