(Copyright © 2009)

But enough of my own consciousness. I am also interested in how other people experience their own minds. Since I do not have direct access to other minds in other bodies leading other lives, I leave the reporting of what they discover through personal introspection to them as being complementary to my own research.

From time to time I will post (as guest blogs) such reports as I come across them. Today I have permission to share a piece recently published in the Vassalboro Quarter Newsletter, “A Garden of Forgiveness” by Maggie Edmondson, who lives in Readfield, Maine. Maggie writes, “I am very interested in imagination and the spiritual power of metaphor.”

A GARDEN of FORGIVENESS

Maggie Edmondson

While I was in England this time last year the Chelsea Flower Show was in full swing. There were something like thirty 10×20 gardens created for the event by landscape artists and for several evenings there were shows about them on the television. As a garden lover I enjoyed this tremendously and noted down features I thought I might be able to incorporate in my own garden.

But I also wondered how people might benefit from the garden idea who had no land to plant. My imagination started to work with the idea of designing an inner garden. How would that garden look and feel and smell? Would it be all tranquil shades of green as some of those Chelsea gardens were, maybe accented with a few pure white flowers? Would it have waterfalls or other water features to give it an element of purification and regeneration? Would it be a riot of color to replace a sense of bleakness? Would its form be simple and elegant or strange and fanciful? I had a feeling that if we were to allow our hearts and imaginations to do their nonverbal, image-building work, we might create individualized inner garden retreats which would feed our souls.

Then, through one of those wonderful “coincidences” when I attended meeting that Sunday a Friend who was a keen gardener spoke about her struggles to forgive things from her past. She expressed it as a desire to plant a garden of forgiveness. My imaginings of an inner garden became focused over the next few days toward an inner garden of forgiveness. I started to choose plants appropriate to my memories of places or people—a mulberry tree, a wall covered in climbing roses, bluebells, primroses and blackberry bushes, a stream with stepping stones. I also remembered some of the attributes traditionally associated with certain plants:

Gerbera daisies for beauty and innocence—what a wonderful thing to plant where there has been ugliness and abuse;

Irises for faith, hope and wisdom where there has been despair or lack of direction;

Vines for new life, regeneration in those places which seem dead and withered;

Honeysuckle for generosity where there has been selfishness or closed-fistedness;

Roses for love and admiration, where there has been anger or hatred or lack of appreciation; and

Forget-me-Nots, whose name says it all.

That garden lives vividly within my imagination, within my spirit. I can walk its pathways, experience its healing presence, feel the spirit of the One in whom we live and move and have our being. Thanks be to God who speaks to us in so many ways, including our imaginations.

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