In my garden I have hundreds of shrubs and trees. I’ve designed woodland walks that encourage immersion in the garden as you journey along the different paths. Each time I walk the garden I meander a different trail to observe the small and big changes that occurred since my last visit. Sometimes it’s a new tiny shoot emerging from the soil just seeing daylight. Sometimes there is a plant weakening and a slipping into senescence. But each time the garden tells me its stories.
Twenty years ago when I was designing this garden I hired a company to help carve the terrain. Soil was to be dumped behind the row of trees along the edge of the property to make a berm, thus creating a buffer to the street and more privacy in the woods. The driver of the bobcat had the sensibility of a construction worker rather than a gardener. There was a carelessness to his treatment of the trees. He didn’t respect their majesty. At one point he drove his bobcat forcefully into the trunk of one of these, he didn’t blink, he didn’t stop, he just backed up and kept going, Concerned only with his job at hand.
I walked to the tree truck and gently covered the gouged bark with the palm of my hand. I spoke to it as I often do while amongst the plants. Over the roar of the machine, I softly apologized and told the tree I was so sorry. I felt its hurt personally. It felt natural to me to nurture that injury as I’d cared for the scrapes and cuts on the bodies of my young sons.
Over the years I often caressed the wound as I wandered throughout the garden. Watching the healing happen. Slowly, very slowly, that tree began to heal. The inside of the gash began to close, the bark covered the wound by millimeters each year. But I noticed also, that the tree was left with a scar. It would never completely disappear. It would last throughout its lifetime as a reminder of the accident, the injury.
I too have scars that I carry on me. A lifetime of damage both big and small. Some of those scars are from physical injuries but I also carry inside of me the scars of emotional damage. Like the tree, I didn’t succumb to these many wounds. I grew scars, some of them thicker than the surrounding skin. But reminders of my resilience. My ability to heal enough to move on, move forward in spite of the pain. Like the tree, I still stand proudly against the vicissitudes of life.