This morning I went back over to the George Center for Community, Gaia’s Temple’s spiritual home for over a year now, to finish the job I started two weeks ago: pruning the rhododendrons right by the parking lot. I reshaped the copse of them, removing the lower branches in that topiary way that is so popular.
But the yard waste bin situation prevented me from being able to dispose of all the branches properly at the time. I had to leave the felled limbs in a pile until the bins were emptied and today, a sunny, warm, northwest spring morning, I donned my fleece top and work jeans, grabbed my clippers and loppers, my rake and broom, my garden gloves and outdoor dustpan and had at it.
Most were thin boughs, but some I’d had to saw off the trees they were so thick. Now I had to saw them again to be shorter. My shoulders and neck strained with the repetitive motion of lopping and sawing as I felt the first sweat of the gardening season trickle down the side of my face. When outdoor work begins each spring, my body lets me know about it. “Thought you’d get right back to it without feeling a thing after a winter of indolence, did you?” she asks with a grunt.
Yet each year I jump in with my whole self. I adore working with plants, any kind, anywhere. Flora fills me with energy all the while soothing me. She infuses me with blissfulness, even when her activities make my body ache. The perfume of damp earth, the sharp scent that wafts when ivy is cut, the smell of green from a broken branch are redolent of sanctuary. They fill my soul along with my nose.
When the wheel barrel is full, I walk it down to the yard waste bins behind the building. As I pass the front door, I remember that I have keys to open it. I belong here. I recall the service I offered inside just yesterday morning, when I wore make-up and fancier clothes. The feeling my words conjured in the room as I spoke about the balance of the upcoming vernal equinox, and our need for reconciliation between women and men to find and maintain that balance in our world. I think about the loving community that gathered with me. The music bringing home the message. How blessed I feel to be a partner in the community center this place is becoming.
As I pile and stuff more branches in the bin, my default fantasy blooms in my mind, just as ardently as it always does: I am the grateful recipient of a huge windfall of money -my fantasy does not include how this happens or who bestows the windfall, just that the winds of fortune do their magick, just like they brought down these leaves- and I buy this building and this land from the diocese that now owns it. It’s mutually beneficial and everyone is happy with the sale. We spend the next two or three moons renovating the place, putting windows in walls that now block out natural light, fixing this and that and the other, too, removing the clutter, buying comfortable seating, painting my favorite colors, installing full theatrical lighting, a new floor, a stage, the sound system is installed and in place at all times, everything is modernized so not a trace of ‘mid-century’ remains. I hire a facilities manager and a janitor who keep the place clean and running smoothly. And with all this ease and space and support, I begin to offer services more than once a month and then…
I find myself walking back up to where I was working and decide to rake the rest of the leaves from the parking lot. Soon I have another huge pile to lift and toss into the wheel barrel. I ask myself why I am working so hard here when my own garden at home has plenty of work to keep me busy. My answer is simple. Much as I’d love to, I don’t need to own the property to feel ownership for it. Anything I do to care for the Earth is right action, because every square inch of Gaia is mine. Yesterday I was Her Priestess. Today I am Her groundskeeper.