Cultivation in Life

I have an almost new grandchild. I am both awed and moved by the amount of surrender, dedication, and cultivation it takes to plan, grow, birth, and nurture this little being. 

And, I’m a sort-of container gardener. I say hello to plants that are growing. Sometimes they tell me what they need. I’m starting to think spring gardening – what I’ll add to the soil, seeds to buy, and a plan for a drip system. I wonder about planting and the moon, and how to keep hail off my plants.

The boy observes cultivation of a young plant.

My grandchildren, as well as the garden, represent life itself, reminding me of the rhythm, flow, care, love, persistence and skill of cultivation. 

What does it mean to cultivate relationships with our children? With our projects? With close friends? How do we prepare the soil, nurture growth, and cultivate development?

Resonating with these rich questions, and Informed by grandchildren and  garden, I’m harvesting –       

  • Intention – Any cultivation takes focus and a clear commitment. It means repairing mistakes and human being acts of forgetfulness. It takes planning, clarifying, discussions, reminders and simply hanging in there for the long haul.
  • Balance – What’s the balance between vision and action? Between self-care and listening, and engagement? When I give myself permission for balance, I connect the right and left side of the brain, the heart and the brain, feminine and masculine. I mindfully stand in the fulcrum present and aware of choices. I take time for the inner and the outer, even if it is just a minute, two, or three.
  • Collaboration – Listening to and  growing ideas with others seeds and feeds the process of cultivation. There is openness and authenticity. It takes nurturing to grow the skill of age-appropriate collaboration with our children. Ingredients include curiosity, mindfulness, timing, and awareness of limits.
  • Integrity – What is the cost of forcing my garden to yield more or pushing something through that’s not ready? When we are present, honest, and vulnerable in our relationships, and aware of our needs and limits, we fertilize growth of relationships and projects. One big thing I had to learn as a parent was that I could be vulnerable, admit mistakes, not know immediate answers, seek help, and be honest about feelings, while holding a safe container for the relationship.
  • Celebration – My first kale harvest is an event just as meaningful as the garden bed preparation, planting, seeds sprouting, a pregnancy birth, or birthday. What happens when we appreciate and celebrate growth of learning, projects, taking bold steps, efforts, even preliminary little steps?

It can get confusing. Really deep cultivation can go against present cultural norms. Our culture can reward product over process, independence over collaboration, and growth over integrity. 

Yet, the rhythm of life, what lines up with the care and action needed, really is up to each of us. Also up to each of us is how much love we throw into the mix.

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