It wasn’t an accident that the first two posts in this series were about hearing my garden speak to me. If today’s entry was my last and only chance to impart what I’ve heard, it would be about the importance of listening. Far and away, it’s the number one thing I’ve learned out there among the roots and canes and blossoms and thorns.
It might seem that listening is an odd thing to do in a garden. The senses that draw us there, after all, are sight and smell. We want to behold the beauty of the landscape and inhale the fragrance radiating from the blossoms. We expect that all we will hear is the quiet.
Yet, it is deep in the quiet, with our hands in the dirt and our senses awake, that messages materialize in our minds. Metaphorically speaking, it’s like a science fiction story in which luminescent beings from other worlds communicate with awestruck earthlings through telepathy.
Or maybe it’s not metaphorical at all. Maybe it’s just one lovely, Godly creation mingling with another.
It’s funny, then, that the high insight about listening actually came before I even had a garden. It was my husband’s idea to carve out a portion of our backyard for roses, and it was my mother’s idea to plant many varieties. If I hadn’t listened to them 10 years ago, I might now have half a dozen yellow and ivory bushes tucked along the fence line. As it is, the yard is flush with 32 bushes producing blossoms of almost every color of the rainbow.
I’m hardly the first person in your life to tell you to listen. Your parents undoubtedly did because, of course, they knew best. Your teachers, your scoutmasters, your coaches all wanted you to listen, too. You grew up with it. You may have embraced it, but it’s also pretty likely that you rebelled against it at some point. I can only imagine the number of times in my youth that I thought or said, “I’m not listening to you,” and hungered for someone to listen to me instead.
Today I believe that, if meaningful communication is a marriage of listening and speaking, listening is by far the better half.
In business, government and communities, the best ideas are most often the result of people sharing their thoughts, listening to the perspective of others with a stake in the outcome, and blending the most promising concepts to solve problems.
In relationships, listening is the foundation that supports you through good times and bad. It’s the cornerstone of friendship. It’s the gold standard of parenthood. It’s the spark that keeps the flame burning between lovers.
I suppose it’s a bit of a paradox that I’m writing a blog that begs readers to listen to me while I extol the virtues of listening to others. Perhaps it’s a nod to my rebellious youth. Perhaps it’s something else. Next time I’m out among the flowers, I’ll see what the garden thinks.