Lying Down in the Garden: The Passion and Presence of Gardening By Haley Myoyu Voekel

When you lie down in the garden, the dirt will cover your hair and your clothes. It will get into your pockets, onto your scalp, and smear across your shin. It will, if you lie there long enough, change your body into itself. It will swallow you whole.

When you lie down in the garden, ants will race over you, flies will search you, spiders will skitter between your fingers. Some of them will bite you. Are you ripe? You are an obstacle, an opportunity, a salty, warm wasteland. Hold still. The robins will eye you sideways as they carefully select a perfectly sun ripened strawberry. Redder than any worm. And much juicier. The swallows are indifferent to your hushed breath and will stream over you like tiny jetliners, bellies full of insects and swallow dreams.

When you lie down in the garden and stare at the sky, you can make clouds disappear. And reappear, actually, it just takes time.

Roll onto your side and take a look at that sultry tomato plant over there. The one with the little green wonders hanging heavy on the branch. Perhaps by now, if you look close enough, a coy blush of yellow or red has appeared against the taut flesh.

Everything you’ve got. All your bodily juices, blood, bile, sweat and tears, that luscious green wonder will take it all. Her roots, leaves, fruits and the seeds of future plants will absorb you, she will grow lush on your bounty and her tomatoes will fatten richly into succulent red flesh. A bit of bone and hair is all that will remain. The robins will gladly warm their young with your hair.

Would you like to see life and death as perpetual flow? To die is to become a raspberry.

Some monasteries might consider banning gardens altogether. The come-hither charm of a new bloom, the unabashed embrace of a bee with flower, the devastated bean plant now left to nothing but stalk and slug goo. Nature tempts us unremittingly to join in the fray of sex and carnage, destruction and new beginnings.

When you lie down in the garden, and touch in with the pulse of early summer, that boundless force that pushes its way above the soil at any cost, it can make any aspiring practitioner go mad with wanting. Can you return to the cushion in quiet contentment after the fiery passions of summer have penetrated your being?

Drop everything and stare wild-eyed at the ladybug’s spots. Set down your shovel and any formalities that our species has laid so heavily upon you. Absorb the warmth of the sun as the plants do. There is nothing left to be self-conscious about. The garden will joyfully devour you, body and soul.