Thursday, September 18, 2008

The beauty in brokenness

Molly, still recovering from a seriously broken arm, has written a beautiful post inspired by some photos her daughter took to depict life on their farm to a far-away friend. Rather than take picture-postcard photos that try to convey a glossy and complete picture of the farm, Molly's daughter Elizabeth took photos of fragmented imperfection: September tomatoes, a cabbage with torn and bug-eaten outer leaves "reflecting the actual effort required to become a cabbage," her disheveled younger brother asleep on a screened-in porch. The photos and writing capture the beauty of this time of year between Lughnasadh and Mabon.

Elizabeth’s pictures suggest there is no obligation to strive for something other than what is or to strive to explain everything fully. They have an acceptance of transience. the illusive, and the natural processes that break down everything except the loving eye that bears witness to this brokenness.

Most growing seasons, I spend much of my time in the gardens working to bring the plants to their full and ripest point. I love this peak moment when I find it in a Flower, but these pictures reminded me of the beauty of things past their peak, broken, or imperfect.

Flowers never try to hold onto this peak moment, because going to seed is as important to them as their peak moment of beauty. Unlike our culture, they make no effort to hold onto some impossible moment of eternal youth. And this surrender is not a loss. The gardens have a deep beauty and gravitas as they pass into fall and winter. Plant architecture may be broken, but in fall, the gardens have great heart and wisdom.

In previous growing seasons, I too often fixated on “garden problems”, racing from one to another to clean things up. This year, I had to go wabi sabi on myself. In my brokenness, the path of least resistance was to look for the beauty in things just as they were. This proved so much easier than expected. The untended beauty of gorgeous volunteer Flowers as well as weeds reminded me, just as my broken arm reminded me, that sometimes the light shines best through a crack in the vessel.

No matter how much our minds might tell us the glass is half full, when we are forced to stop and really look at it, the glass is always overflowing. Nature always overflows our cup. Life always overflows our cup.

Read the whole post, and see the sweet photographs, here.

No comments: