Monday, 13 August 2007

Abiding Passion

I’m having a love affair with my garden. Every day we bring each other gifts. I bring water, or new seedlings; or I prune or weed, or build supports for the beans and climbing tromboncino courgettes and wineberries and tomatoes. It produces something new and surprising, magical and beautiful every day.

I came to gardening in my 40’s, with a half acre allotment which I tended for ten years. It was way too big for me to keep up with, and parts of it always looked like it had reverted to jungle, but it churned out a vast array of fabulous fruit and veg.

I’m still passionate about gardening, though more relaxed about it. I know that not everything always works as I expected or hoped, and that’s OK. The garden goes on and on and will always continue to be magical and surprising and beautiful.

This constancy through change is Hexagram 32, HENG. Heng is variously translated as Duration, The Long Enduring, Long Lasting, Constancy. But it lasts precisely because it is always changing. The hexagram is formed of Thunder over Wind: two different types of movement, the Gentle and the Shocking. Both trigrams have the quality of movement, but the relationship endures. This is the hexagram of lasting marriage: stability in the midst of changing circumstances, a living marriage, a steady state of constant renewal.

The character heng has the ‘heart’ radical – representing feelings, the realm of the mental and emotional – plus an ideograph of a boat between the banks of a river. This is a ferry one relies on to cross the river, always making the same journey, continuous and dependable. It’s a cyclic journey, not a linear adventure. Thus the meaning is: to rely on, constancy; something that will go from here to there and back again, without ceasing: a steadfast heart.

This hexagram is exactly in the middle of the I Ching, and is the heart of the I Ching: in the middle of change, something is permanent. The theme is beautifully stated in the Confucian commentary on the Decision: ‘The four seasons change and transform; thus can their production of beings long endure.’

Reminding me of this truth is the very best gift my garden gives me, and it gives it every day.

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