Have you ever had the experience where you discovered something wonderful that is brand new to you, but you soon find out that the rest of the world has known about this for a very long time?  I am currently having that experience right now as I have discovered one of the greatest of summer activities that has been enjoyed by people around the world for generations.  Yes, my friends, I have discovered the utter joy and delight of planting and growing a vegetable garden.

Who knew that planting a vegetable garden could be so much fun?  Well, apparently just about everyone with whom I have been sharing my enthusiasm for my new found hobby.  Most people, I’m finding, are either growing a vegetable garden right now and many having done so  for years, or at some point in their lives enjoyed having a garden.  I may be late to the party, but I’m glad I found it and I’m glad I’m here!

I hope you will forgive me if in my new found passion for gardening I write more than just one column about the many connections between wellness and gardening.  I just never new how many lessons there are to be gained from gardening.  I guess it should not be surprising that this is the case.  After all, many of the sacred texts of the world’s great religions contain numerous agricultural, nature-based images and stories to illustrate  spiritual truths.

My wife and I planted our first vegetable garden five weeks ago, with the help of our daughter and future son-in-law.  Okay, truth be told, they planted it and we helped.  They are both experts in the area of farming and gardening and so, knowing that we were interested in having a garden but were unsure of where to start, they gave us the wonderful present of a raised vegetable garden.  They figured out the perfect balance of nutrients for the soil and also purchased all the right seeds and plants.   And in five weeks we are already eating the freshest arugula and red leaf lettuce I have ever tasted.  Pictured above is a photo taken of the arugula we had for dinner last night.

The first connection between wellness and gardening that I would like to share is something very simple; wellness and gardening are similar in that they both have to be created.  You can not purchase a garden, nor can you purchase wellness.  Neither comes ready-made. Each of them must be created over time with planning, patience, and perseverance.

In creating our new garden we had do all kinds of planning; planning where the garden would go, figuring what size garden we wanted, figuring how much lumber, dirt and nutrients were needed, determining what kinds of plants to plant and then when would be the best time to do the planting. Then came the patience.  After all the hard work of building and planting the garden we had to wait for things to come up and now we continue to wait for the plants to mature and ripen. As for perseverance, we continue to water, thin seedlings, and pull out weeds on a regular basis–all so our garden has the best chance of being successful.

This same kind of work is necessary for both personal wellness and family wellness.    Our personal wellness is largely determined by the sum total of the day to day choices we make.  Wellness between a couple, wellness between a parent and a child, and wellness between any two family members has to be planted and grown over time.  Wellness in relationships does not appear all at once, but rather it appears and blooms over time with planning, patience, and perseverance.  Like a garden, we plant and grow our relationships one day at a time.  Then we must also water, thin and weed on a regular basis so that our relationships have the best chance of being healthy and life giving. All of the intentionality, patience and perseverance will pay off in our families much like the bounty of fall shows gardeners that their hard work over the summer was worth it!

I would love to hear what you are growing in your garden this summer–whether its your vegetable garden, or the garden of your own personal or family life.   Whatever you are growing, I wish you plenty of sunshine, good nutrients, and a fruitful harvest.

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