IT IS HERE. My newest book.
the back cover copy.
“This is the story of the garden: my first, and perhaps my last.
I started it at the age of 64. I’m 68 now.
The garden brings me satisfaction, beauty, astonishment, joy.
The garden also requires an inordinate amount of worry and work.
When I started out, I thought simply to put my creative energy into arranging a bunch of plants. I didn’t know the garden would overtake my life.
I didn’t know the garden would help teach me how to order my day, pray, let go, love my neighbor, die.”
Cover and interior by the great Rowan Moore-Seifred of doublemranch.com.
9 Replies to “HARROWED: LIFE LESSONS FROM THE GARDEN”
I, for one among many, have been waiting for this. And am already immersed. Rich and calming.
So grateful !
Your book is timely. I’ve been contemplating starting a garden in my own yard. Being 68 myself and the weather being even more unpredictable here in Maine, you may have been the deciding factor. I look forward to reading your latest book as I have all your previous writings. Thanks.
A favored author on a favored subject. Oh how I’d love to spend a day weeding with such a thought provoking gardner. This too-short-I’m–not-ready-to-let-go book is BRIMMING with intellectual and spiritual insights as always. Thanks again Heather. I didn’t put the book down until I finished.
Thanks, all, I’m forever grateful for your support…This was the strangest effort. Almost as soon as I started the garden, I thought, I have GOT to write a book about this…But then the garden kept unfolding, and I kept getting pruned. So the main problem became How should the book end? For a while I thought, I will move! Then I realized that what happens in my exterior life is not even the point. It’s really a book about a kind of death, about prayer, surrender, acceptance, gratitude.
I also ended up taking out tons of passages of complaining and kvetching, but even that was good, as I would come back to the ms. after a few months and realize, “My God, what a whiner! How unbecoming”…and then I’d realize Oh-this is part of what the garden is teaching me. Et cetera.
Anyway, the garden has survived another blistering Pasadena summer, smoke from the wildfires, and COVID–in a few weeks, it’ll be time for the fall planting. And to have released HARROWED to the world at last is a joy.
My sister gifted me your book, Harrowing, for Christmas 2020. I resonate and respond to a recurring theme in your work, your/mine human condition’s struggle with Solitary Privacy vs. Public Engagement. Both are essential, regardless of temperament and personality.
I’m a language-word-literary-scribe pilgrim free-spirit, a 2015 retired doctoral-degreed pastoral counselor/psychological counselor for health care and hospice issues. I have not been a risk- adverse spectator in living my life. In my professional and called work, I have been unjustly fired from two intense practitioner positions for asking too many questions, extending and investing myself beyond professional boundaries and being perceived and/or found as ‘insubordinate.”
This divinely bequeathed earthly journey is about going forth in a self-trusting faith. Ultimately we arrive at what the originally spoken and sabotaged Genesis story intended and begot: In the Beginning, the Lord made the heavens and the earth and saw that it was GOOD!
Why do so many otherwise good and moral “Roman” Catholics, too many psychologically, philosophically, great literature AVERSE Catholics…continue to be so earth-averse and untrusting, stuck in their own self-inflicted vale of tears?
The Roman churches canonical chronicle of its very transcending existence identifies only with martyrs, sacrificial victims, disembodied virgins, sex-less eunuchs, and self-tormented masochists–mostly women–their last resort death-blow within thousands of patriarchal years of sexist oppression and godless male-dominated tyranny.
Why isn’t the Trinity of Creator-Creation-Creatures good enough, holy and sacred enough, worth tending to, like my many gardens, and yours? It goes without saying that intrinsic with this Creator-made earth of ours is also one of turmoil, trouble, torment and tragedy.
What were we expecting and why do so many smug and self-disconnected (if not dis-embodied) religious folks feel masochistically entitled to dismiss and scorn anything natural and corporal as something to fear? Our spiritual-psychological-philosophical language of Deity is without wonder, imagination or corporal resurrection, let alone incarnation.
If I am aware of any transcending passion and purpose, it is this: to just give myself away. A garden is always a good place to begin and eventually depart from. For me, giving myself away means the revelations of everything lost and yet to be found, my self-betrayals and selfishness, my non-listening unawareness, and my splendidly creative and serving gifts to be offered without count of cost or price. What a gift to one’s life and to creation: to be recklessly abandoned with generosity…where there is no pre-determined fate for knowing nothing else but to remain a passively faithful spectator, wallowing in yet another vale of tears.
In my older age, I have become my most sublime and ridiculous outsider looking in. I’m a quietly manic gardener, a nurturer grower of any life-force that has hopes of a promising dirt home to grow in. Like you, when in one of my many gardens, I discourage, if not repel, others to enter or engage with me there. Human-centricity stays outside of this holy dirt—beginning with myself.
The Harrowed author and I are close in age, I am also long divorced, had to have an urgent hysterectomy in my late 30’s, am ‘childless.’ This void of fussing over and tending to new life in me–in a fiercely tender mother’s heart remains my one womanly-defined signature of barren lamentations. So, I mother everything that I can create, produce, nurture and serve, neurotically nag, and with intentional presence. I read that your transcendence is one of removing yourself.
Other earthly-transcendence neglects the here and now, our creational home, or homelessness, the fallow dirt, or discarded concrete relics, or man-made human polluters buried in the ground, and the smog we once called air continue to escalate their toxic emissions.
I think and write like a Spider’s Web and this allows me to weave and web my way back home. With respect and reverence for all things Roman Catholic in behavior and ritual, (but which can never save us from ourselves), I am focused on much less of the ritual (for its own sake of tradition) and contributing to writing a creation-centered language and way of relating, with one’s Creator, Creation and Creatures (that’s us!).
All the rosaries and novena’s, the obsessive-compulsive addicted church rituals (which should be reverently practiced and not become another transcendent drug) the private morbidities of self-futility and unforgiveness…all of these are non-restorative human-centricities in a kind of personal abdication, a spiritually deadening non-regenerative thought process. All religions, especially the three Abrahamic ones, need to get right with their creation-centered duties first, the original Creation story. There IS a rightful hierarchy and natural order here.
Rabid human-centricity and its selfish greedy endeavors are a long-past fossilized and unreadable language, a very dead language incapable of resurrection or redemption–now more than at any time in human history.
Just imagine this? This world, our earthly mother, the span of our lives, really does NOT revolve around us as homo-sapiens. We are stewards and keepers of ourselves, each other, our gardens. We own and possess nothing, we don’t keep but are perpetual keepers.
I find this most consoling, delivering and freeing. We only need to be the Creator’s creatures.
Thank you for allowing me to share this long comment. I do admire your parse monastic sentences and writing brevity. Alas, not for me. I learned in my counseling-psychology work that listening for a mutually allotted period of time was an essential service for the need involved. Responses…are mostly not immediate and also take much ‘watching-waiting gardening’ time.
But becoming a listening presence for an indefinite timeframe was most self-other revealing and ego-emptying. It hollowed out a do-nothing place in me and where I had no tasks nor tools to turn to. It was losing my grasp and letting-go, to sit and be in the same place with another. Here, I learned to be a creature, no more, no less. Not the disembodied word, soul as acquired object. We are soul-creatures from birth, and it is our purpose and path to grow this, as with a garden.
Ms. King, have you ever fully given yourself away, to another, like this? Maybe something in here invokes a creation-centered response.
Stay inspired, Martha Carey in Minneapolis, MN
Martha, thank you for your comment! I guess I feel like the garden IS a type of giving away, as is this blog, as are my books, my arts and culture column, my workshops, the many emails, letters, phone calls to which I individually respond…I suppose I feel the sign that I’m not completely on the wrong path is that my world view isn’t BASICALLY basically bitter, aggrieved, critical, resentful, or hopeless…though the Lord knows I am definitely beset with neuroses, blocks and wounds of various kinds. Not because of the Church, though, in my case: in spite of her…Blessings to you and your various gardens! I have just put in some purple sweet pea seedlings…
Also Martha, here’s a link to a more recent piece that itself contains a video of and about the garden that perhaps conveys a bit more sense of the community feel…
Ms. King, thank you for your generous response from a few days ago. I was preparing for a colonoscopy and it finally got ‘fully excavated and emptied out’ this morning.
Sometimes, the language and motive of ‘needing to let go’ and ‘just giving myself away’ is interchangeable. I tend to overthink things.
Regardless of which, they are intertwined in a higher purpose and service, beyond my understanding at the time, or ever.
I should trust this and won’t fuss otherwise. All good fussing…belongs in gardens.
What is so wonderful about Sweet Peas? Their wandering, climbing free spirits and that they are so sweet…
I know you won’t publish this Colonoscopy sharing…it could prompt unwanted or unwarranted medical intuitive responses from you…oh my nerves.
Wishing you and your gardens all good things, Martha Carey
Oh I hate when people give unsolicited medical advice, and refrain from offering it myself, so not to worry, Martha! May our 2021 gardens grow…