When we are first starting out or venturing out into a new project it is like the stratification process for seeds. Stratification is a pretreatment, mimicking the conditions a seed must endure in nature before germination. They call it an “embryonic dormancy phase” and sprouting just isn’t going to happen until dormancy has ended. Often seeds are subjected to some chilly temperatures or moisture that mimics nature’s pattern. We like seeds all go through some form of stratification process with some needing longer than others. Without it we can’t naturally bloom where we are planted and nature always needs to take its course. You can’t break dormancy from your current position if you don’t understand your personal stratification.  

Now scarification takes it to a whole other level. With scarification seeds have their hard coat nicked, damaged, marked, softened, cut, to speed and enable the sprouting process. Sometimes it takes just a good soaking, other times they need to be roughed up a little bit. Isn’t that a natural metaphor on life, how many times have you been nicked or cut to enhance your blooming process? Hopefully you haven’t had to endure the “evacuation” method of this process. Some plants are “colorful” to attract the attention of herbivores or the avian species. Their consumption of said plant results in seeds traveling the digestive tract and evacuated out the rear end now marked and softened to sprout into something special. It’s a dirty job but someone’s got to “doo” it. If you’ve been crapped on you have to stand up to it and bloom where you’re planted. 

The Garden invites us to live in liminal space. We find liminal space by putting our hands in the dirt.

The word liminal comes from the Latin word ‘limen’, meaning threshold. Any point or place of entering or beginning. A liminal space is the time between the past and what is coming next. Not living in the past and not knowing what the future will bring, in other words it’s not settled yet. It’s planting, it’s cultivating not knowing what comes next. It’s weird, yet beautiful, an in between space. It is a place of transition, a season of waiting, and not knowing. A place to plant seeds. We discover beauty sometimes in the most unexpected places, because that’s where God hides His greatest treasures. And what could be more marginalized than dirt? Yet it’s the foundation of many beautiful things. The aroma of soil in spring when the winter is past is a liminal space. And whether it’s people or plants I always believe there is more good than is initially seen. Many times it is found at the margins because there is purpose, beauty, great expectations to be found in the margins. The garden is a great place to celebrate margins. Think of Genesis. It’s not land, it’s not sky, it’s the place in between, a garden. And we are called to cultivate and celebrate it with those around us weeds and all. 

Your purpose is often embedded in the pain. It is only natural that spring follows winter. 

Speaking of “seasons” these are photos I took one beautiful hot August day. I love the summer season and the abundance of blooms it brings to our lives. (click photos to enlarge)

Liminal space is where transformation takes place, if we are patient and let it shape us. It’s called being grounded. If we don’t encounter liminal space in our lives, we start idealizing what we assume to be “normalcy” and  trust me no two seasons are the same. When “normal” doesn’t happen it upends the status quo. There is a ripple effect. Like the changing soil temperature in spring, unseen to the eye, the ripple effect is an explosion of growth eventually evident to all. It is these transitions that are an invitation to growth.  Nature shows us time and again.

We as humans like patterns so we can anticipate what’s going to happen. That’s why we love the seasons. We celebrate them with almost a Pavlovian response. A seasonal cadence. There is a rhythm to life. Seasons. I think we love gardening because it is linear in a world where technological progress is exponential. Technology today progresses so fast that the linear expectations of preparation, plant, nurture and harvest has a comforting effect on our personal state. Progressively predictable. 

Today the default response to the question “how are you?” has shifted from “fine” or “good” to “busy” because the pace of change continues to accelerate. The major distinction between linear and exponential functions is the rate of their growth. That’s what makes the garden such a great place. The growth is at a pace with seasonally embraced changes. It is true in a digital and computer age we need more tactile experiences and gardening provides that  lifestyle…a natural progressive experience. I need to change my plants.