Garden Wisdom

Advice for a new college student.

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ILLUSTRATIONS BY CATHERINE STRAUS

My friend Ally is going to college. She and hundreds of other young people like her are about to leave home and embark upon a life away from all that is familiar. The night before Ally left, I wrote her a letter—words of wisdom learned from years of living and pondered upon in all those hours spent in my garden.

Dear Ally,

Here are some lessons I’ve learned from my life and my garden. They seem worthy enough to share:
 

1. We don’t enter a garden searching for weeds, and we shouldn’t enter life that way either. Still, know there are undesirables out there. So…

2. Our lives (and our gardens) need a good weeding once in a while.

3. Like gardens, we thrive in the sunshine, but rain is the life-blood that makes us stronger.

4. It’s okay to be different. Mankind plies the jungles of the world searching for the freakiest blossom, all for the thrill of finding one that is truly unique. Be that flower.

5. Hard work produces results.

6. Everything has its season and beauty fades. Embrace your youth. It’s like a butterfly in the garden: beautiful, but fleeting. Recognize that now is your time to bloom and rise up to take your place.

7. A plant is only as good as the part you can’t see: the roots. The same can be said of people.

8. Adding fancy, expensive additives to the soil may temporarily enhance the beauty of a plant, but it’s not necessary—and not always healthful.

9. Texture is more important than color.

10. It is often the flower in the shade that has the brightest bloom.

11. Dormant does not mean dead.

12. If you would, not “could” (for you possess the ability), learn the art of being content where you are while still striving to move forward, like a flower rooted in place continually reaches upward toward the sun and perfection, you will be blessed with growth and peace amid the chaos we call life.

As you leave your childhood garden and begin to build one of your very own, I wish you many things:

 

I wish you laughter from so deep inside your soul that it bursts open and sets your spirit free.

I wish you tears for your fellow man, just enough of them to keep your heart soft.

I wish you time alone to find the treasures only the truth can reveal. I wish you time with family for they are the reason you are. I wish you a life of answered prayer.

I wish you freedom from fear so you can live all these things and enjoy a life lived to the fullest, no matter where you are planted.


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