I escaped yardwork. Weeding, raking, planting, raking, sweeping — no matter the job, I could worm out of it. When all four kids and two parents spread out into each corner of the yard on a Saturday morning, I strode across the lawn with an excuse.
It’s not that I disliked invasive species, it was the act of being committed against my will that was the issue. (I was also 13 years old and disliked nearly everything.) I had to demonstrate my independence.
Today, I find excuses to spend nearly all my time in my own garden. I chase down opportunities to weed, find excuses to plant, I rake, I sweep, I stare at dirt, and simply observe small bits of life in between. All states bring equal joy: green, grey, wound, discordant, bloomed, browned, fallen — all owning their place, all participating. Without participation, there would not be the opportunity for experience. John Dewey reminds us:
Such happiness as life is capable of comes from the full participation of all our powers in the endeavor to wrest from each changing situations of experience its own full and unique meaning.
To see the greens, the reds, the browns, and love it all is what is worth staying for. In our work, to love both the dark side of one’s workmanship and the shining side of one’s craft is perhaps to experience one’s true self.
To have the integrity to respect all states — and participate in humanity — might be one definition of grace. How we use it is up to us.