the emptiness of my garden

by rebecca on January 12, 2010

Post image for the emptiness of my garden

I am planting altared spaces in my garden this year and I’d love to have your help. I have a brown thumb, so I need lots of support. In this garden, along with planting the traditional things that grow, I’m collecting treasures that tell stories. Please send me a symbol of your altared space. You can be entered in the Friday giveaway…details coming Friday.


       My garden is pretty empty. But that is enough. I’ll start with nothing and be very happy.

       I cleared out a lot of rocks from this garden. Some things died because I was neglectful. An enormous amount of bindweed moved in because it saw an opportunity. I pulled and pulled. Now there is emptiness, and I am happy.

       Like my life, my garden was full of things that weren’t mine. I had to let it get empty before I could figure out what would go in there.

       I was a night janitor for several years. Sometimes I was a witness as people silently displayed their altared spaces while they crossed from one stage of life into the next.

       One gentleman was struggling with his business. He’d work late nights often. He’d chat with me about how work was going…or wasn’t going. He was never busy and, while I don’t want to say it bothered him, I could feel him waiting for what was to come. He was in search of industry. He wanted his own business, and it takes a bit of time for that to grow. The seeds have to sit quietly in the ground and germinate.

       Several times, when I cleaned super late, I actually woke him up. He assured me he’d just fallen asleep working, but the toothbrush in his pen holder said something different. It was damp. He was living at his office because he couldn’t afford rent on an office and an apartment when there was virtually no income.

       Gradually I noticed a shift. I’d arrive at 7 or 8pm and he’d be on the phone, lost in a call that was obviously business. The trash can had more in it. His desk was filled with more mess.

      One day, the toothbrush was no longer there and I assumed business had picked up enough that working late was not nearly so compelling. Perhaps he finally found a place where his pens and his toothbrush no longer needed to mingle.

      This altared space has always been compelling to me. There was so much nothing in his life for awhile. He was a great guy, with all the trappings of success: three-piece suit and leather binder on his desk. But he had no home for his toothbrush.

      His nothing was enormously motivating for him and helped him create a life. He felt the inspiration that came from space and the permission to make his own way.

       My garden feels empty the way his office did in the beginning. I like this. It promises no preconceived notions. It tells me the starting place is open for whatever will grow and take root. The dirt is enough.

       Of course the first thing to visit my garden is the snow. Spacious hydration. Water, pure and clear. What a wonderful beginning to an altared space asking me to find meaning.

       What is the emptiness in your life that might be creating a feeling of hollowness or hopefulness or simply wondering when the toothbrush and the pens will be able to part company?


Please send me your altared space. I’ll plant it even in January. Together, we’ll watch the nothing turn into something.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Vanessa January 14, 2010 at 9:42 pm

You make such living pictures, thanks for this.


Joyce Breckenridge January 16, 2010 at 2:11 pm

Oh, Rebecca…how I LOVE your web site! It is so refreshing! My brother, for years went to Nepal studying Mt. Eerest for gliding up it in his sail plane…he didn’t ever do it…but, I became very familiar with the Nepalese prayer flags…they flutter there 24/7, always heavenward. I have had similar toxic experiences with “church” in my life, so I identify with your blog, completely! I don’t know what you mean by “sending something” for my garden…will you explain, please? Hugs!


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