For the reader with a fragile ego, a warning: Today's topic is not limited to, but does contain a certain degree of discussion regarding God, faith, the questioning of faith, and some musings upon, and occasionally trampling of dogmas and doctrine .. if by the end I have managed to offend everyone equally, I will have done my job. Let me begin by saying that I am not a man of great faith .. I believe in what I can demonstrate, and maintain a healthy but somewhat open minded skepticism regarding matters that I cannot personally verify. I am aware that there are people out there who are atheists, but for my part, I lack that kind of blind faith that permits one to perceive the entire visible universe, and still insist that there is no creator.
I can relate to blindness, not because I am blind per se, but what one might call 'severely visually impaired', and have been since birth. Myopia is a condition where the subject's eyeballs are significantly longer than normal .. and apparently, they are going to continue to elongate. For the first few years of my life, I just assumed that the entire world was inhabited by soft fuzzy blobs in a variety of shades, that could be easily distinguished by their patterns of movement, sound and scent. It wasn't until it became necessary to read what was written on a chalkboard that any deficit was noticed. A quick voyage into the big city, and I was outfitted with my first pair of glasses .. suddenly, sitting on the front row of the classroom became a choice rather than a necessity. I have mentioned before, mother was a teacher, and the benefits package DID include family optical, but only to the most basic extent; there were no funds for anything beyond the most rudimentary plastic frames .. and they were hideous.
Kids can be cruel, and as a teacher's son, four-eyes, and having already committed the unpardonable sin of exhibiting a passion for learning, I was in trouble. I could feign indifference in the classroom, blow off homework and earn a C average (I could not bring myself to get anything less than an A on tests, although I did learn to delay turning them in until after someone else had made the walk to the front of the class) Class clowning, being disruptive and 'rebellious' helped, as did avoiding contact with the maternal unit .. but unless I could find a way to get contact lenses, I was going to be stuck with the glasses, and everything that went with that stigma.
About this time, the family was experimenting with going to different churches every Sunday, trying to find the right 'fit', I suppose .. although I would have rather spent the day fishing. We went to one of those evangelical institutions for a while, where the pastor would lay hands on the members of the congregation that were in hopes of receiving healing. I would get into that que to receive the blessing of healing in faith, and I really did believe that it was possible, if God was all powerful, to be relieved from this ailment of near sightedness. It never worked, no matter how much or how hard I believed, my overly long eyeballs remained overly long, and kept getting longer. I became disheartened, not comprehending what purpose a God would have in withholding visual health from a young boy, especially one who believed so fully in his healing power.
No doubt the patient reader is beginning to wonder how any of this relates to gardening, and I beg just a little more patience .. I'm getting there. I embarked on my own journey of enlightenment, studying the religions and belief systems of every culture on Earth that I could find, constantly seeking to distill from each that essential essence, that 'something' that led its adherents to believe. I was looking for magic, I was on a quest to discover the source of miracles, not the mindless repetition of dogma, but that underlying set of principles that made it all work. It was a journey that took over 40 years.
Along the way I delved deep into folklore and mythology, Norse, Greek, and Roman. I studied the tales of numerous African tribes, the myths of the indigenous Native Americans including the Hopi, Osage and Tsalagi. My wanderings led me into the ecstatic Kabballah, Quran, Buddhism, and many long hours pouring over the words of Rabbi Yeshua Bin Josef. The tales from ancient Sumer and the mysteries of quantum entanglement all passed through my awareness, and had Hathor at any time put my heart to the balance, I don't know how it might have fared against a feather. At one time, I was completing a meditation session, and had yet to put the glasses back on, when I became aware that, without those lenses, I had the ability to observe fine details up close that a person with normal sight might miss. It was then that the realization hit me, like a bolt of lightning one might say - and I couldn't help but laugh out loud. Hathor's feast was going to have to wait for another victim, because I had finally discovered the answer.
If there was once central theme that I had managed to glean from all of my research on the subject of divinity, it was this: Everything happens for a reason, and everything serves its purpose. The message that God, Providence, the Universe, Hashem, Allah, Shiva or the Great Spirit (whatever works for you) had been trying to impart to me all of this time was simple: "look closer". All of this time, what I had assumed to be a defect was not a defect at all, but an ability that I possessed that others did not .. where most people would see what was on the surface and accept whatever it appeared to be at first glance, I was looking closer, examining everything more carefully, finding the associations that others were missing. If I had been born with 'perfect' vision, or been miraculously healed when Kenneth Hagin laid hands on me as a child, I would have never had this revelation. Alright, we are now coming to the part that relates to the garden.
I was sitting on the front porch one afternoon, late in the spring of last year, watching the grasshoppers devour my amaranth. If I had had the same sort of vision that most people have, I would have been dismayed by such an awful thing happening .. but since my sight has been corrected, I could see clearly what was going on: I had sown an overabundance of the amaranth, and as it was not needed to draw phosphorous up to the surface, and the soil was furthermore not suffering from compaction, nature had no need of it there. The grasshoppers were simply performing their task in the ecosystem, removing something that was not needed in order to make room for something that would benefit the garden. Had I sown fewer of the amaranth seeds or thinned them out early on, there would have been no need for the grasshoppers, and they would have likely moved on.
To use the metaphor, mankind has consumed the fruit of knowledge, and is now capable of seeing that there can be a negative aspect to the workings of creation .. the plants that sheath their limbs with thorns, the ones that are toxic for us to eat, the wasp with its sting, and even the extremes of weather that can make life challenging at times. So much do the negative aspects distract us that we often fail to comprehend the interconnectedness of nature, and how all of these things also can work to our benefit: The thorns protect the Acacia and Locust trees as they work to add nitrogen and organic matter back into the soil, the plants that are toxic if eaten in excess or for the wrong purposes are medicines for us and remedies for the soil, the sting of the wasp helps it catch and devour its favorite meal - the caterpillars, that might, if unchecked devour our own food supply. Those extremes of temperature help to drive the weather systems, delivering water from the oceans back on to dry land, allowing everything on Earth the chance to thrive.
One text in particular mentions that, having left the garden, mankind began to till the soil .. and nature then brought forth the thorns and the thistles to vex them. The clues are abundant: The dandelions tell us that our soil needs calcium, as it works to bring it up to the surface. The thorn-trees offer us nitrogen to enrich the soil, the pigweed tries to bring us phosphorous, and when it is time to switch from annuals to more abundant perennial systems, here come the grasshoppers to clear them away. All around us, nature is working to establish a system of abundance, with all of our needs readily at hand. Perhaps it is time to correct our collective vision, and recognize that mankind did not walk out of a mythological garden; we simply altered our perception in such a way as to make it impossible for us to see it .. and now, the time has come to learn to see that garden again. It is right here, it is all around us, and it has been waiting for us to come home.