The Cave Song

I found myself poised at the mouth of a cave that emitted a low, beckoning song. I looked behind me at the mess of harvested fields and tangled forests, and the chill of solitude swept through my bones. Craving warmth, craving respite from slaying my own dragons, I stepped inside the cave and measured my footsteps by the rhythm of the cave’s welcoming song.

What struck me most about the cave song was how closely it resembled the song of my heart. As my fingers sought the cool, damp stone of the cave’s walls and the song ribboned around me, I was gripped with creeping recollection. There had been times when the pain of betrayal, the sting of rejection, or the abrupt brush of dismissal had forced me under blankets or flinging arms wide to the sea, to draw in and out of myself and let salt air or quilted comfort rock me with the steady thrumming of my very own dear soul.

And now this song, a crescendoing lure that began at the roots of my heart and its memories of oneness, brought me down deeper and darker into the cave’s serpentine throat.

My body responded to them before my head could comprehend that I wasn’t alone. Goosebumps prickled my skin and the hair on my arms rose as if blown on by cold air. I knew then, as my hand met flesh instead of stone wall that there were others like me, groping in darkness for something other than our own existence, our minuscule perceptions. As we walked in silence, I wondered if they could hear the same song, if the beating drum mimicked their hearts, if the chords struck and otherworldly undulations mirrored their hidden souls.

Crackling light spilled suddenly covering black with gold and the twisting tunnels broke open to reveal a hive of rooms electric, pulsing, living. There were all manner of people and creatures glimmering like stars, winged, glowing, dipped in fluorescent light. Once my eyes adjusted to this new brilliance, I explored room after room, feet advancing as if possessed. These people, this species of cave dwellers, roamed and danced and played instruments individually, but moved as if one to a cacophony of sounds.

golden cave man

I was approached then, by a man so beautiful I nearly doubled over with the sudden sharp acknowledgment of loneliness. His eyes burnt with fire and promise and his bare, burnished torso gleamed like the future. Before all logic and consideration we were interlocked, dancing to private unheard symphonies and there was gold dust in my hair, between my fingers, on my eyelashes and resting on my tongue. It tasted like stolen sweetness and my heart song quickened its tempo into a crashing riot of thunder and lightning.

Those eyes, his hands knotted with mine, held me for eternities. In those arms I imagined a warrior and myself a hero’s beauty, my body’s pleasure and relief of handing the sword to someone who would fight for me. He swept me into inner rooms and hidden chambers and showed me secret things and I could see it so clearly: life’s companion threshing wheat and overgrown weeds, making me beautiful and bold and wonderfully, exquisitely held. Held when blankets wore too thin and held when teetering too close to the cliff’s edge. Songs sung in harmony.

Eve’s kingdom for Adam’s kiss.

Lower and lower into the cave’s depths, my hand in his. So deep was I, so drunk on this feeling I rode like a wave, that I didn’t realize until seconds later that he was gone with as little logic and consideration as he had approached me.

His absence left me hollowed and hasty to leave the cave; in that moment of sharp desperation I saw there was no escape. I trudged like a wounded animal seeking my golden man. Flashes and glimpses danced on the walls, and I flung myself at them, only to crash headlong into stone and choke on gold dust lodged in my throat. It was then I heard the sliver of a new song, thin as violin strings and delicate as moth’s wing from the bowels of this new wretchedness. But I was like a lost child, a kitten, easily diverted by baubles and tricks of light.

I followed the shadow dancers and joined the mass of people and creatures like me transfixed by the cave’s seductive song. It was a party like none I had ever seen, a celebration of ourselves and our enjoyment of each other. All around me, those with severed limbs and giant gaping holes like mine flirted, fanned flames, posed in beguiling shapes. I saw then that it was a feast and we were feasting on each other’s souls. And the hole inside me gaped open, vulnerable, grotesque, and demanded instant filling. The cave people found solace in other arms, found ecstasy and delight in mutual mastication.

I saw how easily it was to replace one golden man for another, how with each dance and touch of hand the connection was more shallow, each split less severe. Bees to flowers, all of us were bees and flowers both, the honey and the beast.

All the while we caroused in perfect entrancement, a new song spun itself around me softly, approaching and retreating like a rolling tide. It was just sweet and pure enough, small teaspoons of honey, to give me pause. For brief moments I’d see myself as if from afar and perceive that we were a hurting lot with holes too big and ugly to fill. But the cave song was louder, it was catchy and quick and we were all singing it raucously. And the cave people, the golden men, were easier to see and touch than intangible threads of solitary songs.

How intoxicated I was then, high on the fraternity of cave people, blinded by light so fantastic, by a sense of belonging so exquisite I could scarcely recall what it was like as a lone heroine in a world beyond the cave. How powerful, how cozy, the labyrinthine walls of the cave! How simple it was to join in the song that everyone sings, to pretend I was nothing before singeing moments, incendiary connections with other cave dwellers.

oh to be an illuminated one

The new song told me other things, whispered to me secrets whilst I reeled from one golden man to another. It persisted. I hid and it found me. In a particularly dark moment of gasping recklessness it blasted my eardrums until I could hear nothing else, and the cave dwellers moved as if through water. My eyes were opened and I saw:

The glittering cave world for what it was. Emptiness inhabited by empty people. Chains shackling even the most graceful dancers. A place of shadows and illusions and artificial light. A deep and dark sadness masked in grand robes of idle celebration.

And I fought it, as the dancers coaxed and pleaded for me to return, as hands clasped mine and my heart responded, as I remembered how cold, how gut-punching and lonely it could be outside the cave. But the new song now sung my name like an urgent mantra and my eyes could not help but see the fear and falsity driving every gesture and embrace. I saw a tiny pinprick of light, dimmer but more honest than the cave’s bulbs and flares and my soul leapt before I did and I followed it, the hollow cave song growing less and less enticing.

I emerged from the cave and morning broke, tumbling over me like rain, like rebirth.

… And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is! –Matthew 6: 23b

So come out of your cave walking on your hands

And see the world hanging upside down

You can understand dependence

When you know the maker’s hand.

So make your siren’s call

And sing all you want

I will not hear what you have to say.

Because I need freedom now

And I need to know how

To live my life as it’s meant to be

And I’ll find strength in pain

And I will change my ways

I’ll know my name as it’s called again.

— “The Cave” by Mumford & Sons

We Need Each Other

I have my books and my poetry to protect me; I am shielded in my armor

I am a rock, I am an island.

I’ve built walls,

A fortress deep and mighty,

That none may penetrate.

I have no need of friendship; friendship causes pain

[…]

I have my books and my poetry to protect me;

I am shielded in my armor,

Hiding in my room, safe within my womb

I touch no one and no one touches me.

I am a rock, I am an island

–from “I Am A Rock” by Simon and Garfunkel

One year when I was in high school, I taped the words I AM A ROCK, I AM AN ISLAND to the inside of my locker door. Rest assured I was teased for that, but I was making a statement in that turbulent time, both to myself every time I got something from my locker and whomever happened to pass by and see the sign:

I am impenetrable. No one can get to me. I don’t need anyone and as long as I keep these walls up around myself, I’ll be safe and I’ll never get hurt. You can’t get to me!

Over the years I saw the futility of this message. Unless you’re a hermit and living in seclusion, you can’t help but have relationships with other people. And being human, we hurt each other. It just happens. We fail each other and hurt each other and no amount of self-protection is going to stop that.

And yet I would still build and rebuild the walls. I’d let someone in–sometimes even before trust was established–and inevitably get hurt or disappointed in some way or the other because that’s just what happens. Each time I’d look at all the broken pieces of the relationship and make a vow that I’d never let that happen to me again. It’s my fault for letting someone get that close to me, for being vulnerable, for being intimate with someone and letting them see the real me.

Up and up the walls would go. Up went the defences that signalled danger at the slightest sign of rejection, real or imagined; up went the false strength and self-preservation … and I’d wonder why people didn’t know how to approach me or why some brave souls would tell me I was a closed book and hard to get to know …

I was a sensitive little crab that would retreat to the safety of my shell anytime things got tough or personal.

But the truth is that hiding behind your walls for fear of getting hurt can be just as hurtful, if not more so, than putting yourself out there.

No (wo)man is an island.

Better when we're together

Yes, it’s important to tap into the wells of your own being in solitude and find peace in being alone. Trust me, as an introvert (albeit a highly social one), I know this all too well (and have blogged about it often). But like most things in life, it’s all about balance, and something I’ve been learning lately (especially whilst in Ireland) is that we need each other.

We were created for community.

It’s why Adam needed Eve. Why dynamic duos tend to get more done (and have more fun) than soloists. Why even the Lone Ranger needed his Tonto. We are social animals and we need to have community with other human beings if we want to survive.

This is not to say that we shouldn’t be careful and establish healthy boundaries in our relationships. There’s a fine line between cowering behind our walls and being wise about whom you trust and decide to let in. Let God guide you, and be as wise as a serpent and as gentle as a dove. Also realize that your time is valuable and a gift to whomever is truly deserving of it.

I’m learning this and it’s a work in progress. I can’t be friends with everyone and that’s okay. I’m blessed to have many anam cara friendships, a small and intimate church family, and a tight-knit blood family. I’m learning that the premium our culture places on independence and individualism is somewhat flawed.

I’m so blessed to have spent that time
With my family and the friends
I love with my short life I have met
So many people I deeply care for

–from “Red Cave” by Yeasayer
We need each other, and we depend on each other. Not for esteem and validation and to meet all our needs, but for support. Encouragement. To share in our joy and in our sorrows (as my cousin put it so beautifully in her blog).

"However rare true love may be, it is less so than true friendship" -- La Rouchefoucauld

To my kindred spirit friends, my family, and those in my community:

I need you. I’m sorry if I have, in the past, pushed you away or let my fears of getting hurt impede our relationship. I’m sorry if I’ve shut you out and withdrawn when things have gotten difficult. I’m telling you now that I need you. I need your friendship as you need mine. I need your stories, your laughter, your tears, your triumphs, your sorrows, and your time. You are so highly valuable and precious to me and have helped shape who I am today and who I am yet becoming.

I love you.

The Delicate Art of Balance

Man On Wire: Phillipe Petit balances between the twin towers in 1974

 In 1974, tightrope walker Phillipe Petit performed the ultimate balancing act by walking on a high-wire suspended between the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in New York City. Call it bravery, call it art, call it stupidity, the provocative performance continues to fascinate and beguile nearly forty years after he carefully placed his first step on the wire. An image of Petit’s feat has been selected by Incubus for the cover art of their album “If Not Now, When?” set to drop on July 12 and in Colum McCann’s prize-winning novel Let the Great World Spin, the central event that binds the varied narrators together is Petit’s balancing act.

While not nearly as extreme or perhaps poignant as Petit in 1974, our lives can be said to be held in balance–that balance is the key, the secret, that elusive essence we strive for in order to attain happiness. Equilibrium. The ponderous point of it all. Life = the delicate balance between this and that. Middle ground. The “happy” medium. Dip too far into one extreme or the other and that is where conflict arises. And balance is indeed delicate and fine, the art of keeping it for the truly enlightened and serene–the tightrope walkers of the shaky and tenuous Game of Life.

In my twenties, I’m learning that balance is more than just a flimsy axiom breathed by yogis and Oprah Magazine–it is central to everything, yet often foggy, just beyond our grasp. There’s truth in shades of grey, but there’s also confusion, misdirection, bumbling around in the dark.

Because I’m smack-dab in my mid-twenties (give or take a month or two) and may or may not be in the midst of a quarterlife crisis of a Reality Bites magnitude, I can say with confidence that at this age, much of life is about finding The One: The Career and The Relationship. The Ones that will stick with us for the rest of our lives. Our heartfelt, often foolish exploits in this area are the fodder for many a witty feel-good film or tenderly honest, whip-smart novel–both of which touch us with their sophisticated, relevant cultural references and relatable montages of applying to jobs and going on a series of first dates with strangers. We laugh knowingly as SWM or SWF faces yet another rejection from a potential employer or suffers through another bad date, but when it comes to our own lives, we’re not always laughing.

We’re grimacing and groaning and lying awake at night, throwing our hands up in exasperation and defeat, self-consciously editing and offering up our best selves for ruthless potential Ones. When we’re reminded (every minute) of the successes of others and their attainments of Ones via Facebook or awkward run-ins with former acquaintances, it’s hard to not feel a little jealous and wonder, What am I doing wrong? And those in our age group who have both Ones and are flaunting it proudly with dinner parties and designer purses … that just ain’t fair! The younger the acquaintance, the more of a struggle it is to play the comparison game and attribute their successes to good fortune and privilege.

I’m struck by how similar the search is for The Ones. In both, there’s the careful embellishment of our best qualities via CV or online dating profile, the interview/first date, the waiting by the phone for that life-changing call, the acceptance or rejection. Thank you for applying but we have found another candidate who is more qualified and suitable for the position … Thanks for the great time last night but I don’t think we’d be a good match (Actual, real-life examples). And that’s if there’s a response at all. Most of the time, it’s waiting and wondering and going back to the drawing board, updating the CV or taking oneself off every dating website because rejection’s too painful and maybe it’s time to just focus on yourself right now.

While we search and wait and make the most of this time suspended between adolescence and adulthood, we try to find a balance and the fine line between

Being patient and becoming complacent.

Using our God-given abilities to make thing happen and surrendering our control.

Settling for Right Now and holding out for Something Better.

Appearing too eager and appearing too aloof.

Holding on to the craziness and unpredictability of youth and moving towards the stability and security of settling down into adulthood.

Letting go or trying to make things work.

Constantly seeking to improve or working with what you’ve got.

Raising your standards or lowering your high expectations.

Getting frustrated or holding onto hope with every fibre of your being.

And on and on it goes. All we can do, I suppose, is take it one day at a time. One foot placed carefully in front of the other.

Your Precious Heart

"A woman's heart should be so hidden in God that a man has to seek Him just to find her" -- Maya Angelou

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life — Proverbs 4:23 (NLT)

Lovely,

Your heart is so precious, so soft and so valuable. Protect it from harm. Keep it safe. Matters of the heart are not for the weak, so keep it strong by remembering it is priceless.

This doesn’t necessarily mean going into hiding, making yourself scarce and cold and unavailable. If that’s not your true nature, then you don’t have to assume an unapproachable demeanor to prevent a sick and broken heart.

It just means realizing that you are precious and beautiful beyond measure, and that your heart is full of bright and lovely things. It means your heart is not a freebie, a giveaway, a sold-to-the-highest-bidder (or any bidder–how often is our criteria for getting involved with someone simply that they like and accept us?) You’re infinitely stronger and better than that. Tell yourself this every morning as you wake up and every night as you go to sleep.

Blessed am I among women.

Eat Proverbs for breakfast. Wear your armour. Speak blessing and gratitude.

"Where you invest your love, you invest your life" -- Mumford & Sons

Make no apologies for who you are, for desiring true love and pure romance. Don’t downplay it or hide it or bite your tongue for fear of scaring someone away. The right person will treasure and value these things and will be drawn to them.

Make no apologies for your femininity, for the desires of your heart, for reveling in your softness and sensitivity and genuine tears, for your gold and your shine. These things are precious and should only be treated like the finest of diamonds.

If you get this, if you really get this and truly know who you are, then perhaps you wouldn’t treat your heart like a chipped and stained ceramic mug donated to goodwill to be purchased by those with dirty hands and greedy lips. Perhaps then you wouldn’t ask, “Do you think I’m pretty?” to anyone who walks by and base your worth on their answers or silence. And maybe then clumsy kisses with frogs just wouldn’t seem fit for a queen. And maybe then you’d derail the train (or jump!) before the wreck.

You are gold and diamonds and pearls. Your heart is a handcrafted, lovingly designed and masterfully painted china teacup, a precious gem set behind glass at Tiffany’s and only you have the key.

“How much?” he asks.

“Priceless,” you answer with a wink.

And someday, perhaps you’ll find someone suitable enough to be entrusted with the key. Listen to your heart. It will tell you.

In the meantime, you’re a queen. It’s time to start treating yourself as such.

"Only do what your heart tells you" -- Princess Diana

Be a Queen

Another Serendipity Book has found its way to me through the Amazon trail, this time in the form of A Woman’s Worth by Marianne Williamson. She is the author of my all-time favourite quote found on my About page (yes, I first heard it in the movie Akeelah and the Bee–what a good movie!) and this book is inspiring me to embrace my womanhood and become the queen I was meant to be.

I wish I could have this book (along with those of Sarah Ban Breathnach) delivered to the doorsteps of every woman struggling with her identity, worth, and losing everything from a long succession of unhealthy relationships. May you be encouraged by Williamson’s words as I was today as I sat in a slab of sunshine at the coffee shop with this book, my journal, my Bible opened to Proverbs 31 and a hot cup of English Breakfast tea, feeling the healing and transformation unfurl fist-tight buds …

"We are here only to love, and love casts out fear"

“When a woman rises up in glory, her energy is magnetic and her sense of possibility contagious. We have all seen glorious women, full of integrity and joy, aware of it, proud of it, overflowing with love. They shine. I have known this state in other women and, at moments, in myself. But it could be a stronger statement, a more collective beat. We don’t have to do anything to be glorious; to be so is our nature. If we have read, studied, and loved; if we have thought as deeply as we could and felt as deeply as we could; if our bodies are instruments of love, given and received–then we are the greatest blessing in the world. Nothing needs to be added to that to establish our worth.

Just stand there. Sit there. Smile. Bless. What a hunger is left unfulfilled in our society for no reason, other than that women have been so devalued by others and so dishonored by ourselves.”

“Joy is what happens when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things are. Joy is not necessarily what happens when things unfold according to our own plans. How often that’s happened–we married the right man, had the children, got the job–and we’ve still known despair. Joy is what happens when we see that God’s plan is perfect and we’re starring in a perfect show. It demands that we have the audacity to embrace the knowledge of just how beautiful we really are and how infinitely powerful we are right now–without changing a thing–through the grace that’s consistently born and reborn within us.”

“Until a woman has given herself permission to be fabulous, she will not find herself with partners who promote her ability to be so. As long as she tears herself down, she will attract others who tear her down; she will find people who agree she is undeserving and lacking as long as that is how she thinks of herself.

So we’re left with a commitment to being a certain kind of woman before worrying about finding a certain kind of man. Once we make such a commitment, good guys will appear. Until we do, let’s just say they’re waiting in the lobby.”

you are more lovely than you ever could imagine

“Some of the clearest thinking we do about relationships occurs while we’re not in one. We’re humbler, more in touch with our pain, more teachable. Our intelligence is always sharper when informed by our own feelings.”

Amen. I can definitely attest to that.

“A princess attracts a prince, a queen attracts a king. Women who whine attract men who wine. Women full of the lioness heart attract men who are full of the lion.”

“What is a princess, and what is a queen? Why is princess often a pejorative description of a certain type of woman, and the word queen hardly ever applied to women at all? A princess is a girl who knows that she will get there, who is on her way perhaps but is not there yet. She has power but does not yet wield it responsibly. She is indulgent and frivolous. She cries but not yet noble tears. She stomps her feet and does not know how to contain her pain or use it creatively.

A queen is wise. She has earned her serenity, not having it bestowed on her but having passed her tests. She has suffered and grown more beautiful because of it. She has proven she can hold her kingdom together. She has become its vision. She cares deeply about something bigger than herself. She rules with authentic power.”

Part of me wishes I had read these impacting books when I was younger, 18 or 19, to save me from so much angst and heartbreak. But I suppose the point of Serendipity Books is that you read them when you’re meant to and perhaps you must first learn the tough lessons as a princess in order to blossom into a queen.

This is what I strive for, daily, little by little. To be a queen. To be, as Florence Welch sings, “a lion-hearted girl.” I wear a necklace with a silver crown pendant to remind me of my true identity and I pray that all of us would awaken from years of slumber to this knowledge.

–all quotes from A Woman’s Worth, Marianne Williamson. Random House Publishing Group, 1993.

The Garden: A Love Story

photo courtesy of http://www.weheartit.com

Once upon a time, there was an ordinary girl with a beautiful garden. Behind a stone wall covered in sprawling ivy, a wooden door opened to reveal a secret garden blooming with every flower imaginable–playful daisies, fragrant rose bushes, lovely lilies, breathtaking baby’s-breath, neat rows of colourful tulips, and other flora she couldn’t even name all contributed to a garden which blossomed with abundance.

Nearly every day, the girl would take a break from her daily activities and visit her garden. She’d carefully slide her antique key into the lock on the door and step inside her personal paradise. There she would walk in simple solitude along the paths that ran through her garden, listening to the birds chirping contentedly in the trees and the sweet breeze as it danced in the leaves. She would sit on one of the many benches or hammocks and let the sun warm her face. She would read, or have a good think, or bring a pot of tea from home and enjoy the quiet beauty of her very own garden.

Once in a while, if it suited her, the girl would haul a brimming watering can from her garage and tend to a specific area of the garden which she thought needed extra attention. She would spend a few days amongst her tower-tall sunflowers, for example, or keep an eye on her tiny tomato plants.

There would be weeks at a time where she would become so occupied with her daily activities that she couldn’t manage a visit to her secret garden. Months would pass without her key turning in the lock, sometimes even years. Her plants would abide all sorts of tribulations: weeds, weather, pests … Yet somehow, every time the girl returned to her garden, it remained intact. Despite her neglect, the garden was just as blooming and beautiful as before. Altered, yes; but it blossomed still. She would find garden gloves strewn across the benches or shovels propped up against the stone wall but wouldn’t think too much about it.

how does your garden grow?

It should be known at this point in the story that there was a wilderness that extended just beyond the garden wall–a dark and forbidding wood where the girl dare not tread. Sometimes she would tiptoe close out of pure curiosity and peer into the unknown depths, but a chill would fall upon her and she’d skip back to the sunny, familiar garden path.

As the girl grew older, she became overwhelmed with the task of maintaining her garden. She was lonely. She wished for someone to enjoy her garden with her, to walk along the paths with her and help her tend her plants. The days stretched longer into night and her loneliness spread over her like the ivy eclipsing the garden wall.

She ignored the tell-tale signs of a caretaker mysteriously keeping her garden alive, for she was alone. She knew she was alone. The more she thought about her insufferable solitude, the more she became impatient with the choking weeds, the pestering bees and the harsh winds, and the more fearful and aware she grew of the wilderness just beyond her garden.

Recklessly, in a moment of desperation, the girl handed her key to the first person who seemed to show an interest in her garden. She opened the door and let him in, giving him just enough instruction without appearing too high maintenance and controlling. Timidly she peered over his shoulder and winced as he yanked weeds from soil. She watched her plants choke under the spray of pesticides but she didn’t breathe a word. Surely he knows what he’s doing, she tried to reassure herself. He was confidant, capable, and she was no longer alone. She enjoyed placing her hand in his and strolling along the garden paths. Her heart leapt when he spoke sweetly to her in the cool of the shade.

Closer and closer the dark woods beckoned. With her new gardener by her side she felt braver; as dusk brushed the garden with strokes of night they danced in the shadows, tempting the wilderness even closer still …

But the garden did not respond well to his touch. The flowers withered and died and the girl could not think about her garden without a knot forming in her stomach. With tears and regret, she let the gardener go and very quickly advertised for another.

Gardener after gardener she let into her secret garden, handing them the key each time with increasing trepidation. Each one had good intentions, but each ultimately failed. Some quit, others she let go. The soil bore signs of too many footprints; the flowers drooped from careless touch. The wilderness taunted her no matter where the girl stood in the garden.

One day, the girl decided she had enough. The last gardener she had just fired had left her garden practically in shambles. Locking the door tightly behind her and stewing amongst the wreckage of uprooted plants and disheveled shrubs, she knew it wasn’t completely his fault. Experience had taught her to give little instruction and let him use the garden at his leisure. Because of her fear and silence and occasional bursts of exasperation, the garden suffered from misuse and neglect.

Now she was alone again, back where she started. In a serene moment she rocked back and forth on her hammock swing and silently wept.

the constant gardener

Creeeeeeeak creeeeeeeak creeeeeeeeeak.

The girl looked up at the sound of squeaky wheels and through her tears saw a solitary figure pushing a wheelbarrow through the demolished garden. With an air of sweetness and simplicity, the figure bent down and lovingly dug through the dirt with his hands. The girl observed him for hours as he slowly and methodically repaired her garden, little by little.

Each day, the girl returned to her garden to watch the mysterious gardener breathe life back into her garden. Her sunflowers stood up straight again and her tulips had never looked more proud. As she became more comfortable in his presence, he showed her–without pretense or imposition–how he had been restoring each flower bed, each rosebush, each tiny bud on every tree. He intimately knew each flower by name and had worked on parts of the garden with which she had never bothered. He was gentle and patient; eventually, he taught the girl how to take good care of the garden with his guidance and encouragement.

With time, the girl understood the signs of maintenance she had seen before–the gloves, the shovels, the rakes and trimmers–had all been because of his invested interest in her garden … and in her.

Her Constant Gardener.

Now the girl has given up complete control of her garden to him, and is daily enjoying the benefits. Hand in hand she walks with him, and he tells her about each aspect of the garden and how he is helping her make it thrive. Together they explore the wilderness just beyond the garden and in his presence, she is strong and courageous. When she is tired or overwhelmed, they simply sit on the bench and enjoy each other’s company.

And they live happily.