Defining “Hermit”

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I had to remind myself the other day that blogging about gardening and blogging about my life as a gardener, but also my life outside of the garden, is what this space is about.  Why then did I choose to call myself a hermit?

Recently I told a friend in a rather maudlin text message the hardest part about being alone isn’t the pain of loneliness.  No, rather the pain come from surfacing for air, leaving the solitude, and risking contact with people outside of one’s solitude.

Don’t get me wrong!  I’m going to tell every person I come in contact with that has some genuine spark of normal that human beings are dangerous animals that should be avoided at all costs.  I need to be social, but there’s a line to draw between being social and allowing someone into your space.  I wrote about that in my journal about the importance of the gate in a garden, the importance of how the gate functions not only to define the space, but defines who can and can’t enter the space beyond.  It’s control in a way, but it’s also part of creating the safe space, the sacred space, that is the garden.  Or, if you follow the metaphor, the sacred within.

What I’m learning more and more each day is that peace is something not earned, not sought after and found; peace is what exists.  The choice we have as gardeners, as human beings, is how we choose to adapt to that peace.  The last two weeks I’ve found myself trying to create what I thought was what I wanted, but instead it pulled me further from the peace that already existed in my life.  A human being, a man, suffering because of the choices he’s made in his life and perhaps because of the choices that were made around him, has no choice but to return the the agonies of his life.  Do I want to live like that?  Do I want my life to be a reflection of those choices, those distractions, those weeds?

Being a hermit isn’t about being alone.  It’s about making choices, active choices, about the people we want to interact with, how we want to interact with them, and how we choose to spend our solitude:  do I as a hermit want to wallow in being alone, a loneliness that I choose for myself?  Or do I want to instead love the peace that surrounds me in my solitude, choose to admit those into my garden, my peace, who will help the garden to grow?

Every day we are bombarded with choices, from the moment we wake up until the moment we go into our beds at night.  Some of us are meant to be stationary, to live stationary lives, meant to live within the hermitage.  Others of us, like my friend Russel, are meant to go out into the world like a Franciscan and take the message to others, to serve others, to live in the world.  For Russel, living in solitude is against his heart.  He’s spoken recently about moving back to Toronto and I realized after telling him (rather presumptuously I might add) to not act rashly that unless he’s moving, unless he’s settling for short periods in different places, he can’t thrive.  For him, his garden moves with him.  This is the way he tends his garden.  The choice is ours every day to thrive, to flourish, and to choose if we will do this with weeds, with grasses, or with grains.

For my part, my seedlings are an inch tall in some of the peat pods.  Soon I’m going to have to transplant them into other containers, and start seeding my sweet peas.  The melt has begun.  The itch to turn soil has begun.  The square beds are so visible to me now, the pond, the borders of lilies and poppies and the talls; the closer it comes to spring, spring in Saskatchewan, the greater the call to enter the garden.

Defining “Hermit”

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