garden as teacher


“If you get down on your knees… you are likely to become exquisitely aware of what you are doing.”  ~Barbara Brown Taylor

Here in Traverse City I enjoy working every day hauling water and getting down on my knees in what we call the Big Garden. Silence reigns. Most days I don’t think with words. Closing out the drone of passing cars I attend to the heart of silence.

This sounds simple enough; staying in what British psychologist D.W. Winnicott called “play space” or “potential space” for this willingness to let things be while we attend to some inarticulate space.

Right now I’m living in the experience of sharing a small apartment with a permaculture teacher and studying and working with her students and colleagues in the community and urban gardens. Family and friends are asking “what is your plan?”

It’s not so much that we’re afraid of change or so in love with the old ways but it’s that place in between that we fear. It’s like being between trapezes. There’s nothing to hold on to.” ~Marilyn Ferguson

As I ride my bike home from the gardens I think about my mission to learn about shared housing. The practical and competitive part of myself says, those who want to know my plan are right. Hurry. There isn’t much time left. Others will “get there first.”

Where? There are a growing number of blogs and websites and even books promoting shared and co-housing. Many give advice. I can’t.

I can share likening permaculture gardening to people planting a community. I’m in the confusing complexity stage, the place where folks are apt to get stuck or quit.

I continue to grow and share my vision – a building large enough for a small group of women to share, each with her own bedroom, room for a big enough garden to supply vegetables and berries, the ability to ride a bike or walk to amenities like markets, the movies, library, restaurants and a beach or a park – a space to be alone. I envision a place to become involved in community, make art, and create beautiful surroundings for everyone to enjoy… an open community where all people are accepted, appreciated and encouraged to share their skills and be themselves.

My current reality is observing, noting and not editing, wondering and researching …


About Marian Methner, B.S., D.Min.

Polydox: accepting that we are many labels, I am mother of 4, mother in law (love) of 4 and grandmother of 5. My life is a collection of bits and starts. I was recently on the road for over a year exploring ideas of living in shared housing. A recent summer course in Permaculture design, solidifed my interest in "social permaculture" or ways we interact not only with our Earthly environment but also with each other. I am back Bellingham, Washington, in a small rental house, owned by my ex husband, talk about shared housing, practicing living in community with family, and friends. My doctoral dissertation A Map to Living Open Heartedly, centers around making art as a way to healing. Paradoxiclly, a recent diagnoses of heart failure (cardiomyopathy) expands this exploration...
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3 Responses to garden as teacher

  1. It seems to me you are practicing possibilities. We are always in some sort of transition–some times the space between the letting go trapeze and the catching trapeze is longer and wider than others. Besides even when we are stuck, change is happening. We just don’t recognize it yet, but it still looks so similar to what we are attempting to change.

  2. I was taught to call the space between what is and what’s next, free fall. Sometimes I find it exciting but often it’s just very frightening. I completely agree with your quote, it’s not that I’m so attached, but where to go next without the bridge of an income to get there. This is why i’ve begun to write my blog, The Little Old Lady Stays Put (or doesn’t) – to create an authentic way to interview others, to explore what’s out there, and hopefully to find a next place to be or a way to stay here. You seem to be accomplishing that. But I still have a ways to go. I am getting a bit of clarity but I get sidetracked by interesting people when I should be talking to people more about co-housing and house sharing. The truth is, I already share my house, but although the idea is wearing a halo, the fact of house sharing is totally illegal in NJ where I live. It reminds me of the time when home-based businesses were illegal and many of us had them anyhow and felt like criminals until they became legal after all. At the moment, I feel like a criminal sharing my house, but I’m doing it anyway. Scary.

  3. Virginia says:

    Marian dear – thank your for shariing – ALL!

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