When I look back at the schedule we had during my years of formation in the seminary, one of the things that come to my mind is the time spent in the garden doing some manual labor. Every day a good amount of time was given to till the soil, remove weeds, plant flowers and water them. In other words, in the daily schedule, there was time to interact with nature. We are part of nature, and therefore there is a need for each one of us to connect with nature and experience its beauty.
After the language studies in Nagoya, I was assigned to Itami. The present rectory in Itami is new, whereas twenty years ago we had an old rectory, and in front of it there was a small piece of land covered with weeds. In that same property towards the corner stood an old, but a beautiful cherry tree. Every year during spring the tree would have cherry blossoms in full bloom. People pass by would wait under the tree for a while to enjoy the beauty of cherry blossoms. One autumn I decided to clean that land full of weeds and plant some tube bulbs so that when it is time for spring there will not only be cherry blossoms but also tulips, panji and daffodils. This was the beginning of my hobby, perhaps a cheap hobby! They say there are no gardening mistakes, but only experiments. Therefore, I started experimenting with different things and enjoyed what I was doing. To remember what I did more than twenty years ago in my own little way, I decided to include a few pictures of my garden at the end of this short article.
Gardening is not just about making your house look good, but it can also bring many benefits to health. As a child, I remember the times I used to weed our garden at home and water the plants. I also recall the times I made my hands and fingers dirty with mud, and my mother would always remind me to wash them thoroughly before eating food or drinking tea. They say that having dirt under your fingernails may be a sign of poor hygiene, but scientists may say it could also be a mark of good health because the bacteria found in soil, may improve your immune system and help you get sick less and fight off infections easier! That’s something, isn’t it? When you are outdoors and your skin is exposed to the sun, it prompts your body to make vitamin D. Just interacting with nature can improve your mood and mental health. I have found that some quiet time spent in the garden after a busy day, makes your mind relax. There were times I used to make a cup of tea and enjoy it in the garden while looking at some beautiful flowers. When you see the fruits of your labor, it brings you joy and gives you hope for the future. Gardening is a great way to stay in touch with nature and it is also a traditional form of exercise for people of all ages.
Let me end this with a quote from Lindley Karstens. “Gardening is about enjoying the smell of things growing in the soil, getting dirty without feeling guilty, and generally taking the time to soak up a little peace and serenity”.