One of many highlights of the Gardenblogger Spring Fling in Austin was the talk by the beloved local gardening guru Tom Spencer. (Here’s
my rave about Tom’s site, Soul of the Garden, which won the 2007 Mousie for Gardening Site of the Year.) The talk, "Gathered Stones: Garden Memories," took us to a higher plane, and considering that we were already high as kites on the natural beauty of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, that plane’s an awfully nice place to hang out. My frantic note-taking yields these snippets:
Gardens are human creations, not acts of nature. Gardeners are creative people, who "try to do good by our little patch of earth." (Great explanation of what I call "eco-gardening".)
We’re taught to discount miracles and wonder, and Tom sees even 7-year-olds who are jaded. For kids to develop spiritually, they NEED connections with nature.
Gardening is a spiritual activity and gardeners make the world a better place (no argument there).
He’s a "follower of Christ, but not a Christian; a follower of Buddha, but not a Buddhist."
Paying attention is central to spirituality, though in our culture it’s a "countercultural activity."
Tom recommended to us: "Ordinarily Sacred" by Linda Sexton, Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv (a friend of his), and the poems of Mary Oliver. He didn’t just recommend Oliver’s poems, though. He read – with a lot of heart – her "Summer Day," my favorite line of which is "I don’t know what a prayer is. I do know how to pay attention."
And Tom got no disagreement from this crowd of gardenbloggers when he asserted that gardeners make the world a more beautiful place – something that’s not to be discounted – and that gardenbloggers then go and share it all on the Web. Lord knows we try.
Pam Penick’s posted our big group photo with Tom just after his talk. Here’s the link – notice how serene we all look?