It feels really odd to be at the end of my first growing season on the plot. Back in May, I couldn’t imagine how much the plot would take over my life or what we’d manage to do in the time.
But here I am six months later, a gardener. Not necessarily a good one but a gardener nevertheless and it’s had a profound impact on me. It’s given me something I didn’t know that I needed (and I’m not just talking about the abundance of courgettes!)
It’s hard to talk about without feeling ungrateful and whiny because I do like my life and I am lucky but in recent years I’ve had to remind myself of that all the time. Remind myself that I actually like being alone, that I love where I live, that I do actually have people that care for me. It’s exhausting to have to remember to like your life.It was something more for me than just basic unhappiness because I was struggling to feel God’s presence in my life. My belief in God is one of the most basic building blocks of who I am, the sense that I’m living, as best I’m able, the life that God wants for me, isn’t even a question, it’s just who I am. Even when it’s difficult, when I was unemployed, when Stef died and when I was depressed, I knew that, hard as it was, I was meant to be doing what I was doing and that I didn’t understand it but it would come right. That God was with me. I was possibly the most optimistic depressed person in the world. I knew that I would get through it if I just kept on and I did.
The last couple of years, it’s been harder for me to feel that and I couldn’t quite get my head around it. No life is perfect but my life is so much better than it was six years ago and I wasn’t depressed but I was struggling spiritually and feeling taken for granted by everyone, including God.
Apparently, it’s easier for me to be positive about God when God’s not fair, than it is when I have the things I need. I never doubted God’s existence, it was more that I just wasn’t sure He cared about my life. I knew I was where I was supposed to be and mostly I didn’t mind but there is a whole world of difference between not minding where you are and being happy about it.I wasn’t lacking faith, so much as relationship and the things I normally do when I’m in a bad spot where not working. Last year, I spent six weeks more or less trapped in the flat. On the one hand it was nice to have the rest despite the foot pain and not being able to shower but on the other it was clear that without my mother, I’d have been absolutely buggered and pretty isolated. I came into 2016, knowing that something needed to change but not being at all sure what needed changing or how to change it.
Then came the allotment. Some of the things that have helped this year had nothing to do with the allotment, it’s not all about the one plot.
Having said that, George Bernard Shaw said that “The best place to find God is in a garden. You can dig for him there.”
I get that because the plot has given me focus. It’s needed care and planning and almost constant weeding but it’s also been satisfying to plant things in the ground and watch them come up and provide me with food. It’s also required me to plan for the future, gardening is optimistic by it’s very nature.
It’s also helped me appreciate people on a different level, it’s been easier for people to support me, by giving me tools and plants, so they have. I’ve gained a community of people who love their plots and understand why I love mine. Who are free with a quick chat, or good advice and encouragement and produce. It’s been lovely.
Most of all it’s given me a sense of achievement, I made that space, I dug and weeded and planned and sowed and sweated and it rewarded me by producing fruit and vegetables. It’s astonishing and gratifying. I didn’t know it’s what I needed but there you have it. I needed to dig the ground to bring me back to myself and to God.