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     Volume 6 Issue 40 | October 12, 2007 |

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A Roman Column

The Garden of Eid

Neeman Sobhan

The primal garden of man, Eden, knew no decay, no imperfections. So, this lost paradise of ours was, perhaps, a garden of bland and boring innocence. Our earthly garden of knowledge and doubts, of passing seasons, of bitter sweetness and 'most humorous sadness,' and of our flawed and faltering humanity is the garden of our cultivation, our earned happiness, our garden of Eid.

The gardens of pure joy in our lives---- those rare moments under the pergola of peace and well-being in a frenetic world, a spot in the sun, that is what I want to celebrate today. These golden moments, sometimes, arrive within a real garden: it could be my own untamed one; a friend's landscaped canvas; a public giardino, like the Orto Botanico in the heart of the city, atop a Roman hill; or below my back yard and barely glimpsed through the cypresses lining its edge, the dappled mystery of my neighbour's garden.

And some days, those golden moments arrive not within a real garden at all, but in a deeply felt corner of ones day, wedged in a crack of inner knowledge, bringing forth a joyous affirmation in the sheer act of being, in life, in goodness that in quiet effusion can only be matched in nature by flowers and foliage-----the exuberant yet silent gospel of the garden.

The kingdom of the garden is the cosmos of life, a living metaphor for the entire experience of being alive. It is a living poem. In its microcosmic idiom it codifies the cycle of inception, awareness, growth, efflorescence, decay, transition and continuity at every level. Those who garden ardently feel consciously or unconsciously that they are participants in nature's rituals. In the play of sun and shadow and seasons on moss and leaf, the climbing ivy and the claw-rooted Plum, the rotting trunk and the dripping sap, the stalks of flowers and the tufts of grass, the ancient cypress and the feathery lavender, we can feel the deep rooted-ness of our spirit in the natural world and the connectedness of our body to the energy of the earth with its intuitive laws and mysterious force.

One doesn't have to be a philosopher or a poet to feel this. Even the most amateur gardener, who can't tell a fern from a weed but possesses a sensitive soul, when he sinks his hands into the dark, rich earth while potting a geranium can understand Dylan Thomas's words: 'The force that through the green fuse drives the flower/ Drives my green age….'

By that same token, one doesn't have to be an enthusiastic and passionate gardener or a gardener at all to feel the umbilical tug with Mother Nature; one only needs to be enthusiastic and passionate about life, about ones external or internal world, about Love and about the things one loves.

I love poetry; I love the prose in which poetry hides like luscious blackberries in prickly vegetation. I went blackberry picking this summer and know from experience the pleasure of plucking even one perfect, jewel-black bead alive with secret juices. I love the joy of finding my poetry waiting to confabulate with me in books and hours that invite me like an arch of purple wisteria into a secret garden. I enter every poem like a path through the woods, nature's spontaneous garden, full of light and shadows, the silence of rustling like unspoken thoughts and the scent of mulching leaves from past summers and other lives, the unexpected shapes of unnamed images fragile as wild blossoms that wilt as soon as picked and must be carried away in memory alone.

If there is anything that brings me joy it is to sit in a real garden with a book and a laptop, reading, writing, contemplating my way into my inner woods. Presently, I am content to be on my sunny terrace editing my roses and deadheading my adjectives, or vice-versa, while meditating on the art of believing joy into existence.

Today is Eid, and I am a Believer. I believe in peace, hope, love, humanity, optimism and specially, joy. I believe that joy, like hope, springs eternal in the human heart, and like verdant nature renews itself with the faith of a winter garden in the vernal sun. However hopeless the human condition, individually or collectively, the spring garden returns again and again to the heart of the believer, the ardent gardener of life, like the dawning of Eid at fasting's end.

As I sit with my laptop and a cup of tea in my still evolving back-garden in the mild autumnal sun smelling the fallen leaves of summer and the earth freshly turned for the lawn to be put in next spring, I wish my readers a joyous Eid. May you too, sit in the dappled joy of your inner gardens everyday!


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