Buddha in the WeedsJul 29, 2020 01:37PM ● By Liz Driscoll Jorgensen
For three years or so I had completely neglected my garden, as I stretched my limits of endurance with work and family duties, including caring for elders. I did only the bare minimum maintenance so that my much-loved plants and trees did not die.
Quarantine gave me the time I needed to address the thorny, weedy mess that engulfed my gardens. With determination and all-natural bug spray, I began the task of “digging out”.
As I was carefully separating precious perennials from invasive species and weeds, I remembered how joyful gardening was, and what an intense workout it could be. In hour four or five, I stumbled over something underneath a large tangle of debris, a well-loved and worn statue of the Laughing Buddha. His smile was eternal and his belly round, although he was half-covered in moss, and encircled by vines. Even though I knew he was underneath my neglected garden, and I still had days of labor to go, finding him gave me a wonderful lift.
No matter what my journey—painful as it was as I cared for my father towards the end of his life, sad as I have been over the state of the world and instability in people I had loved and relied on—I knew this was a lesson: My spirit was always ready to be renewed. I could let go and be present in this precious moment any time I chose.
Buddha didn’t appear to suffer under the weeds; he was ready to be joyous and delight again if I was willing to dig him up. If you will allow me to extend this metaphor just a bit further, even relationships that have been hurt by neglect, anger and pride can sometimes be resurrected if we are willing to focus on our own weeds and “injuries”, digging them up to examine if we were too harsh, too frightened or almost gave up hope for others. As long as we are open to possible healing, the Buddha waits under the brush.
Even as we face continued uncertainty and the real threat of illness and loss, we can find our own small, joyful moments in the cycles of life and the healing power of grounding practices like gardening, laughing, cooking, music, connection with others and whatever we most need to feel alive. There is no predetermined path out of our suffering, except to abide by the firm conviction that we are obligated to create and maintain meaning and value in our everyday practices.
Somehow, as the long quarantine impacted all of us, I have been blessed to connect with others who keep hope alive and push through the thorny weeds of fear and anger, greed and projection. I have learned so much about how much less I need to buy and eat and become attached. I have also learned that I can share my heart with others without concern for their acceptance or rejection and stay smiling in my heart, ready for hope to come around again.
I wish for you the ability to find your own Buddha in the weeds and connection in the present as we travel on together.
Liz Driscoll Jorgensen is a psychotherapist and spiritual seeker who has been on the path of recovery for almost 35 years. She is the owner of Insight Counseling, llc, in Ridgefield CT and can be reached by email at [email protected] or through InsightCounselingLLC.com. See ad, page 17.