Gabriel's Horn, Pastor George Weaver, September, 2012

posted Aug 29, 2012, 6:47 PM by Lois Kerchner   [ updated Aug 29, 2012, 6:47 PM ]

Gardening Joy

     As I am writing this article, I am in possession of two books from the county library system on the topic of gardening for seniors. Both authors, a man and a woman, are obviously avid (some would term them fanatical) gardeners. Both of them have good credibility from the perspective that they were very nearly 80 years old at the time they wrote their respective gardening books.

    The man, Jim Wilson, titled his book “Gardening Through Your Golden Years.” The other book is called, “Gardening for a Lifetime,” by Sydney Eddison, with a subtitle, “How to Garden Wiser as You Grow Older.” I would say that it isn’t even necessary to be older or involved in gardening to profit from reading their work, but of course that would be a helpful plus, and I confess to both of those above characteristics.

     Eddison’s book is billed as a “practical, reassuring roadmap for scaling back sensibly while retaining the activities that each gardener loves most.” The author draws on her own experiences and those of other avid gardeners to present a version of gardening that is both realistic and encouraging. Termed as “gentle, practical and personable,” this book helps transform gardening from a list of daunting chores into the rewarding, joy-filled activity it was meant to be. While many of the practices described are ideal for older gardeners, they also have much to offer younger gardeners with demanding professional and/or family responsibilities.

     In a section in his book called “You’re Never Too Old to Garden,” Mr. Wilson has the following to say: “Remaining active in gardening has added years to my life --- of that I am utterly convinced. So, I am writing this book to persuade other senior gardeners not to vegetate as couch potatoes (or in computer-speak, mouse potatoes) but to keep on growing and developing. Inactivity is a fast track to assisted care facilities and nursing homes.”

     Wilson has another section entitled “Minimizing the Effects of Old Age” in which he says: “Some people are in denial about growing old. Research conducted among recent retirees in focus groups found that many harbor profound anger at being labeled anything, and they especially hate being called ‘retired.’ Well, passing years have a way of leaving their signature all over one’s face and body, and there will come a time when denying your age can become laughable. So far we have gotten around the ‘retired’ label by not retiring, but I would be the first to straighten out anyone who tried to equate retired with useless. l know of many public gardens, for example, that would have much difficulty without their hard working volunteers, most of them retirees.”

     Eddison refers to concert violinist ltzhak Periman who was crippled by polio in childhood and walks with braces and crutches. One night at a performance in NYC, one of the strings of his violin suddenly snapped. Instead of stopping, however, the artist continued playing, compensating as best he could. When he put down his bow at the end of the concert, a mighty roar of applause filled the hall. Perlman replied to the audience: “You know, sometimes it is the artist’s task to find out how much music you can still make with what you have left.”

     That’s the task we all have as we get older. How beautiful can we make our world with the resources we still have at our command? Eddison observes that this is the question she keeps asking and while she doesn’t have the answer, she keeps working on it. To which we all should be able to say, “Amen, to that!”

George Weaver, Pastor of Maturing Ministries