There was a time I asked, “Will you tend the garden … the garden of your wife’s heart, the garden of your daughter’s heart?” One of many attempts to encourage the tender watering of our soul lives. I had heard somewhere that men respond to metaphors. As he stood there watching me plant spring flowers, I talked about gardening and how we must give living things committed attention if we want the life force within them to be sustained; neglect them or intentionally withhold their simple inherent needs and that force withers and eventually ceases to exist. I pointed out how little the flowers needed to keep thriving … some water and sun every once in a while would satisfy them. I humbly asked if he could do the same for me, for his daughter, each in our own ways … a kind word, a little attention, maybe an I love you, every once in a while would satisfy us. I asked for crumbs when we deserved a bounty.
The next time this idea was discussed I was outside watering those now tall purple flowers and he walked out and stood next to me. After not having spoken a word to me for weeks, except rarely about practically necessary things, he said two words … “You’re hopeless.” I was bushwhacked. I tried to explain how a hopeless person wouldn’t be watering flowers. It has been said that, “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.” However with those two words, the force that compelled me toward hope in the marriage quietly and imperceptibly withered and ceased to exist.
Or maybe it was uprooted and transplanted, moved home. It nourished my own soul self and gave me sustenance for my precious daughter and for the arduous journey toward freedom. Interestingly, other than those flowers and some mums planted for my daughter’s second birthday, things would not grow here … not wild flowers or tomatoes, not blueberries or potatoes, nothing. That is no longer true … we have more than we can handle … tomatoes and peppers and lettuce and jalapeños, squash and corn and cucumbers and pumpkins. A productive garden, as my daughter would say, and abundant love, grow here in this Blue House.
Bounty, being free itself, thinks all others so.
– William Shakespeare