To mark the start of the New Year, we sent greetings to clients with a packet of bee-friendly wildflower seeds as a small token of our gratitude.

Some weeks later I found one packet of seeds that hadn’t been sent and decided to plant these myself. It was a long wait before the weather was warm enough, but seeds can wait dormant for a long time.

One Spring day I remembered the packet of seeds and surveyed the land in my own back garden for a suitable spot. I was surprised at how few seeds there were in the packet and scattered them sparsely over a small area. It rained quite a lot but I kept an eye out and watered this patch when nature didn’t.

Since I’m a sporadic gardener, of very little expertise or practice, my surprise and delight knew no bounds when little green shoots started to poke out of the earth. Still not entirely convinced whether all were flowers, and not knowing the difference from weeds at this stage, I resisted the urge to meddle and let them grow.

Some weeks later I’ve been rewarded with the most beautiful small patch of cornflowers, daisies, something yellow and what are definitely poppies, not yet in bloom.

Suddenly I had to stop and laugh at myself.  All these flowers are already growing in abundance in the same garden elsewhere and along the country paths where I walk on a daily basis!

I’ve made a number of reflections on this experience. The obvious deductions are having the patience for nature to take its course and ensuring the right environment for abundant growth.  Obviously, the environment (the flower patch in this case) needs tending to encourage the flourishing of the blooms.

What also became abundantly clear to me was the narrow vision I had which prevented me from opening my eyes to the beauty of my own surroundings!

  • What is it that I focus on, choose to notice and what is it that fades into the background?
  • What keeps my mind so busy on my daily walks that impedes my seeing with a wide vision and noticing the beauty of nature around me?
  • What is in my own garden that I am failing to give thanks for and appreciate to the full?
  • The wildflowers have been right under my nose for weeks already, even for many Springs and Summers as I think back.

I’m reminded of a gratitude practice that I have now re-introduced to my daily routine in the attempt to tame my wandering mind, bring me back to the present and give thanks for the smallest things in my life.  Such a practice is of great value in times such as now, when it seems that forward planning is impossible and when we can’t see when the seeds we have sown will finally bloom or even notice when they do.

Each evening, I look back on the day and list three things I am grateful for.

They can be the smallest things, like noticing the wildflowers, or perhaps something someone has done that has touched my heart. There is always something we can be grateful for when we look back on our day. I expand the three gratitudes to ten when I really get going.

Experience confirms that once we’ve got into the routine, we will find that our awareness of the small things in life that we appreciate grows and with it our general feeling of wellbeing.

However difficult the circumstances we may find ourselves in currently, we can remember to take each day one step at a time, giving thanks for the small joys of everyday life.

In doing our part to recover and replenish, to re-emerge stronger, let us trust that patience pays off and that nature helps us heal. Each of us can, in such a way, sow seeds of positive contagion which contributes to a more sustainable future.

If you temper your heart with loving-kindness and prepare it like a fertile soil, and then plant the seed of compassion, it will greatly flourish.

Kamalashila (eight century)

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