In April, when the first tulip showed its face in the flowerbed under the living room window, Mom had to get out in her garden and do her vegetable, fruit and flower business. In the beginning, Mom and I moved in tandem with the garden and religion like we found parallels in them – both had beauty, filled us with awe, seemed to bring some order and ritual to our lives: plant seeds in spring and be rewarded with beautiful flowers and bountiful vegetables and fruit in summer; go to Mass and communion on Sunday and be rewarded in life with only good. (excerpted from You Can Go Home – Deconstructing the Demons, copyright 2012 Sharon A. Crawford).
This beginning of Chapter Two, Practising Gardening and Religion, in my memoir serves as a contrast between the beliefs of a child and the non-beliefs of an adult past middle-age. As mentioned in last week’s post, my garden is my spiritual nourishment and faith and religion of any kind – Christian, New Age, etc. doesn’t do it for me. Many friends, colleagues and acquaintances in my age bracket have “come home” to some religion and faith. Heck, some even have kept the faith and religion of their childhood. Great for them but not for me as I’ve found from experience. I’ve tried different religions –from Christian to New Age and found all lacking. The common denominator seems that they don’t live up to their preachings and I’m not referring to the people involved, some committing horrible crimes such as sexual abuse. I mean their “truths” when put into practice.
I still believe in God – it’s my take on God that has changed due to life circumstances. A friend calls what happens to us “challenges” and I go along with that in part. To me challenges are positive things that happen to you. For example, the editor at my book publisher finally gave me his feedback on my pre-quel novel (prequel to four linked short stories in my mystery collection Beyond the Tripping Point published October 2012. See http://www.samcraw.com/Articles/BeyondtheTrippingPoint.html). Instead of cursing and getting angry, I welcome having to do a major rewrite as a positive challenge. Also fixing up my garden, planting and digging up the weeds encroaching on the perennials and taking up space in my vegetable garden, trying to grow vegetables in the ground or in pots – all this is hard work with lots of well, challenges. And that’s how I look on it – a challenge to work through.
But the negatives coming at me aren’t positive challenge; they are destructive curses. This stuff is bad and the criteria seems to be twofold: it comes from outside me (i.e. I don’t cause it) and it reeks havoc on my health, finances, or property, and time, or maybe some of each. True the novel rewrite and the garden may partly come from outside me (I wrote the novel and I work the garden – but I don’t plant the weeds for example) and true they take time, but both are a joy and engage me in a positive and constructive way.
Maybe the lack of “joy” is the key to what constitutes negative. For example, in the past couple of months, among other things, I’ve had to deal with and/or am still dealing with the following:
- Financial – The Canada Revenue Agency messing up my tax returns which until fixed can leave me not receiving GST rebates and provincial tax credits (see last week’s post at the beginning); the bank officer messing up my RRSPs. The latter has hopefully been fixed and the first, let’s just say I’m waiting for them to fix their mistake.
- House and Property – where to start: just a few – the water still sometimes getting into the basement during strong storms despite the big excavation outside two years ago to fix; the bathroom leaking taps which lead to three (so far) visits from the new handyman – he doesn’t look at the big picture and is very disorganized, and now a surveyor was drawing the tell-tale orange lines across people’s front property and the roads – the phone company is doing digging for “conduit” this summer. They just did something like this five or six years ago and then dug the corner at the end of my driveway. After grilling the surveyor with questions (old journalist here), he thought it might skim the corner of my rose garden. Didn’t last time, so now I’m busy trimming back the rose bush and the bush juniper hanging over the driveway. It appears that some of my neighbours’ front perennial and vegetable gardens are going to get dug up – again for the same thing.
- Computer problems. Enough said here.
- The incompetence of so-called professionals and their unreliability. A partial “list” is included in the diatribe above.
So when I get a professional doing a job well I have to speak up. I had two window blinds that needed replacing – the bedroom mini blind was falling apart in phases for years –no spare cash to get fixed and the blind in the kitchen fell on me last summer (it’s spring is broken). This year, armed with a 10% Sears discount from the Home Show in Toronto, I signed up to get the blinds replaced. They measured the space correctly and delivered (and hung correctly) the blinds – the latter three weeks earlier than promised. That’s the way it should be.
Where does this all fit in with trust, faith, religions, etc.? For me, just putting it out there to be protected from a lot of this negative stuff and when it happens to get it fixed quickly, professionally and send me the money to do so – often doesn’t happen. More likely I run into incompetence, screw-ups, spending too much money, and my time wasted dealing with it all.
Bottom line: have faith in yourself and caveat with anyone else, except a few trusted friends and family. No one gets a free ride – life is full of bumps and putting it out there for otherwise doesn’t guarantee that is what you will get.
Sharon A. Crawford
Only Child Writes