Ljg 2018. Originally photographed in the late 1980s.
I’ve been stressed out this week. And when I get stressed out I like to cook. Obviously, there’s some psychological connection between food and stress, but I won’t go into that now. Needless to say I was engaging in a little “self care for the creative” this morning as I made this batch of harissa, a North African condiment made of dried chilies, spices, garlic and oil.
My point here in mentioning this is that as creatives, we need to take the occasional mental or emotional vacation, if we can’t take the real thing. Knit, fix cars, read books, go hiking, garden, do whatever it takes to clear the decks and prime the pump.
Here is the recipe I used. I used all guajillos, the juice of half a lemon, and fewer cloves of garlic.
It seems appropriate on this Earth Day weekend that I spent a little time working in my small container garden. In the past, I have not been overly successful with gardening, but this time I approached it in a different manner. In the past, I would determine that I would plant a garden, and then spend large amounts of time sweating and toiling, ultimately not seeing much of a return for all the effort.
This time I am letting the plants grow themselves. What do I mean by this? All I need to do is four things: plant when the temperature is warm enough, and provide them with proper light, nutritious soil, and the right amount of water. I only spend about an hour once a week checking on them, giving them a good long drink of water, and keeping an eye out for insects and anything else that might be an obstacle to their well-being. Other than doing these simple activities, I get out of the way and leave them alone to grow. Plants, it seems, have the power within themselves to grow. I don’t need to fuss over them
The medieval abbess, Hildegard of Bingen, who was a theologian, musician, writer, scientist, medical practitioner, mystic and visionary, had a word for this inner force: viriditas, or “greening” power. This power pulses with vitality and fruitfulness. It resides in every living organism. It is life in abundance.
What if we applied the same basic gardening principles to our own lives, both physically and spiritually? What if we got out of our offices, away from our computers and devices and exercised in the fresh air, feeling sunlight on our faces, eating nutritious food, and drinking lots of water? The greening power within us would heal our bodies.
Similarly, what if we disengaged from social media and all the other obstacles to our peace of mind? What if we were to take time to pray and meditate, fellowship face-to-face with others, feed our souls with things that are pure and wholesome and not negative or hateful? What if we partook of the divine Spirit that “greens” this world?
Then true healing would take place. Of this, I am certain.
Last night, I decanted a tincture of lemon balm that I started a month ago. Lemon balm is supposed to calm the nerves. I tried some and had a good night’s sleep. However, I’m thinking that it had less to do with the lemon balm, and more to do with its base of 80 proof vodka!. :D.