An Afternoon in a Japanese Garden
Change how you see and see how you change. ~ Zen Proverb
As soon as I awoke on Sunday morning, I knew it was going to be a beautiful day. I had slept comfortably all night and was greeted with birdsong and a soft breeze coming through the open windows. After a week of high humidity, the change in weather was welcome.
My husband had left the day before on his biennial section hike of the Appalachian Trail and I decided to forego a Buddhist workshop, not wanting to be inside on such a lovely day. Instead, I spent the morning working in the garden, pulling weeds and pruning weeping cherry tree branches that had been nibbled on by deer. It had been so long since I'd spent time outdoors! It felt so good to feel the sun on my face.
After a lunch of a juicy tomato and fresh goat cheese on sourdough bread, I decided to visit a Japanese garden that was part of an Open Garden Days event. This particular garden was located in a town not far from me, on the grounds of a private estate.
He who plants a garden, plants happiness. ~ Chinese Proverb
Have you ever been to a Japanese Garden? They are peaceful and serene. I entered through the wrought iron gate and immediately sensed I had entered another world.
"The garden is a metaphor for life, and gardening is a symbol of the spiritual path." - Larry Dossey
A stone path weaved its way through the gardens, leading me down to a clearing where trees had been planted in a circle, two crane sculptures flanking a large circular stone in the center. The circle is a symbol for happiness and was repeated throughout the garden. I paused at a pool of water, the tall stone rising out of it representing a crane, the symbol for longevity. I was not alone in the garden and yet it was quiet, as if we were all under a spell, deep in meditation.
A garden must combine the poetic and the mysterious with a feeling of serenity and joy. ~ Luis Barragan
As I walked through the gardens I felt a shift in how I had been recently feeling. A sense of calm settled down around my shoulders, wrapping me in its soothing embrace. I realized I was happy.
In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks. ~ John Muir
It felt good to exhale, to sit and absorb the beauty that surrounded me. I sat for a long while, quiet, listening to the rustling of the bamboo trees and the soft trickling of water. When I returned home, I brewed a cup of tea. It had been a perfect summer afternoon.