At the beginning of quarantine, my friend Hessy helped me put in a 4×4 garden plot, the size of a small coffin. It was a big undertaking, requiring the help of our tallest, strongest male friends. The plot itself is framed by big logs because Hessy wanted it to be sturdy and cost effective. I love the way it looks. Other people have little gardens to putter about in. I have a fortress garden to rule over.
Planting began the next day, in the evening. Hessy told me to read a few things, but to also trust my instincts. I think about burials as I slip the seeds into their shallow graves. Really, the only difference between this plot and a cemetery is what’s being planted: life vs. toxicity. How different the world would be if we gave up coffins, and commemorated death by scattering ashes in the soil of young trees.
John O’Donahue writes of the “slow coaxing” we must go through as we face death. I feel it every day as I look at my own ugliness. Since the madness of quarantine started, I’ve grown disillusioned with myself and “the wonders of technology”. My hands clutch at my selfishness, my worry, my grumpiness, all rooted in me, me, me. These weeds are familiar. I don’t see what will happen if I give up control, if I uproot what I perceive to be me, me, me. I need to die a hundred little deaths each day, but can’t always see that it makes much of a difference. “If I really let this die, will something even grow?”
My little fortress garden is sprouting. I decide to plant a few more corn seeds. The damp earth spilling through my fingers reminds me of home, and I find myself humming a Brasilian worship song, the familiar melody pulling up memories of vibrant life and golden twilights. I sing to my seeds as I plant them, placing them gently into their little graves. Seeds of worry have sown themselves in my soul, and I push them beneath the dirt as well, believing that trust and peace can grow from them. I just have to let them die.