Waking Up

"Joe Versus the Volcano is one of my favorite quirky movies. The title alone wins style points. Tom Hanks plays Joe, a young man stuck in his life, stuck in a job he detests, stuck in a windowless cubicle of fluorescent lights. Is this all there is? . . .

"As the movie goes on, Joe wakes up. At one point, watching the moon rise above the ocean horizon, Joe sums up his transformation: 'Most people go through life asleep. But the ones who awake live in constant total amazement.' "
Sacred Necessities

Garden Magic

"What we need is not a primer on 'how to find amazement,' but the permission to experience, to give into, to give up control.

"I have a friend, a Methodist minister, who found a love of gardening later in life. He told me about walking in a small public garden near his home. 'I don't know what hit me,' he said, 'but I literally became unhinged.' Edith Wharton calls it 'garden magic'... a sort of enchantment of place, an intoxication or spell that affects you in all the senses."
Sacred Necessities

Gandhi's Sanctuary

"It is well known that Gandhi spent a good deal of time at his spinning wheel. Yes, he enjoyed spinning, but it was more than that. He talked about his wheel as the place (the space) where he could remove himself from the pressing demands and issues of the day. A place where he could be centered, calm, rejuvenated. It was his sanctuary. His sacred space."
Sacred Necessities

Grace and Delight

"I learned that the opposite of depression is not happiness, but delight. Grace fuels delight. Grace is that which tumbles into our lives, and we are spontaneously surprised by the goodness and beauty of living."
Sacred Necessities

The Enemy of Grace

"One [enemy of grace] is the temptation to work for or earn it. So much so that we equate our very worth with work, and find ourselves missing those moments when the heavens have opened."
Sacred Necessities

A Ticket to This Life

"Spirituality . . . is not about a lottery ticket to the next life, but a front-row-center ticket to this one. This life with its car pools, ill-timed meetings, bleating pagers, demanding children, traffic snarls, and yammering pain-in-the-neck obligations."
Soul Gardening

Gardening the Soul

"To be human is about regaining what has been lost in the shuffle when life has been relegated to keeping score and making waves. To be human is about cultivating the good life. To be human is about gardening the soul."
Soul Gardening

You'll Figure Yourself Out

"There's a wonderful conversation in Regarding Henry (a movie about a conscience-less lawyer who suffers brain damage from a gunshot wound and finds himself recovering in a new and strange world) during which Henry tells his physical therapist, 'I tried to go back to my life. But I don't like who I was. I don't fit in.' His therapist tells him, 'Don't listen to nobody trying to tell you who you are. It may take a while, but you'll figure yourself out.' "
Soul Gardening

Lavishly Wasting Time

"Buy a chair. A comfortable chair. A chair that was meant to be lounged in. A chair with your name on it. Put the chair in a place where you can sit for a spell. In the garden or on a porch or out under a tree. Let your thoughts cascade and spill. Give no heed to any compulsion to sort or assess them. And, most importantly, give no heed to the need to justify the time you just gracefully and lavishly 'wasted.' "
Soul Gardening

The Sacrament of the Present Moment

"Practice the Sacrament of the Present Moment wherever you happen to be now. Lounging on the porch, scrunched in an airplane seat, or sitting in a living room looking at the window sill. Notice details — colors, smells, textures, sounds. Close your eyes and recreate the scene in your mind with as many details as you can remember. Let silence join you."
Soul Gardening

Happiness Is a Red Flag Word

"Happiness has always been one of those red flag words for me. I can relate to Meg Tilly's character in the movie The Big Chill who says, "I haven't met that many happy people in my life. How do they act?" And those who profess happiness seem to be conspicuously withholding some part of the story."
Soul Gardening

Your Garden Doesn't Have to Be Eden

"Your garden doesn't have to be Eden, it just has to be your own little slice of heaven."
Soul Gardening

Coming Clean

"We're a culture coming clean. Coming to terms with our propensity toward addiction. And excess. So the pendulum swings, as we disown anything that smacks of fixation, shunning obsession, paring our life down to the basics, now measured and fueled by self-control. Becoming, with little irony, all the more fixated and obsessed. To which Kurt Vonnegut (Fates Worse Than Death) writes:

" 'To all my friends and relatives in Alcoholics Anonymous,' I began, 'I say that they were right to become intoxicated. Life without moments of intoxication is not worth 'a pitcher of spit,' as the felicitous saying goes. They simply chose what was for them a deadly poison on which to get drunk.

"Good examples of harmless toots are some of the things children do. They get smashed for hours on some strictly limited aspect of the Great Big Everything, the Universe, such as water or snow or mud or colors or rocks (throwing little ones, looking under big ones), or echoes or funny sounds from the voice box or banging on a drum and so on.' "
Soul Gardening

Scared to Death to Be Wrong

"There's a terrific story about a first-grade Sunday school class. The children were restless and fussy. The teacher, in an attempt to get their attention, said, 'Okay kids, let's play a game. I'll describe something to you. And you tell me what it is.'

"The kids quieted down.

" 'Listen. It's a furry little animal with a big bushy tail, that climbs up trees and stores nuts in the winter. Who can tell me what it is?'

"No one said anything.

"The teacher went on. 'You're a good Sunday school class. You know the right answer to the question. It's a furry little animal with a big bushy tail that climbs up trees and stores nuts in the winter.'

"One little girl raised her hand.

" 'Emily?'

" 'Well, teacher,' Emily declared, 'It sounds like a squirrel to me, but I'll say Jesus.'

"We start young in this culture. Scared to death to be wrong."
Soul Gardening

Prayer and Solitude

"Prayer and solitude are good partners in the garden. And, I may hear nothing, or I may hear God's voice on a gentle breeze."
Soul Gardening

Gardening is Not a Hobby

"Gardening is not a luxury or hobby that is added to the list of other projects in our lives. . . .

"My garden placed me squarely in a world of sun and moon, wind and rain, soil and water, insects and animals, summer and winter, germination and death, personal responsibility and Sabbath.

"Gardening is a passion that made me want to care, to really give a damn about this slice of planet entrusted to me."
Soul Gardening

Gardening is About Being Present

"Gardening is about being present. In this life. Embracing the present moment can happen while we are observing, drinking in, and enjoying. For gardening is about seeing and serendipity, about celebration and connection, about the permission to waste time, and about the joy of sitting still. It can happen in times of planting, and watering, and harvesting. In times of resting, working, waiting, and dreaming. Times for letting the magic happen, Times for embracing the grace of wonder."
Soul Gardening

The Alter of the Superlative

"We worship at the altar of the superlative. This is no surprise given the model by which we quantify success. Since we crave speed and we see productivity as our objective, these things become our standards for measuring how well we are doing."
The Power of Pause