Today I broke another rule

by Elouise

Chanticleer Gravel Garden

The rule I broke is simple. If I have one day filled with joy, I’m not entitled to any more days of joy until some unknown later date.

Why is this a rule for me? I’m not sure. It reminds me of childhood.

Back then it seemed (at home and at school) that good, happy, joyous occasions were doled out according to merit. I had to earn a treat. And having had my treat, I needed to work even harder to earn the next treat!

For example: In 5th grade our teacher would treat us to a 5-cent ice cream cup if we did well on our spelling test. Those who didn’t do well could come along to the ice cream store, but they had to pay for their ice cream cups–unless they failed the test.

So back to 2015. Yesterday’s Sabbath made me want more, especially because I didn’t struggle about celebrating it, or feel guilty afterwards. In fact, I’d planned it during the week. Then yesterday, Sunday, I took D with me and spent the afternoon soaking in spring beauty at a garden I love to visit.

Chanticleer isn’t your run-of-the-mill garden. (See photo at the top.) It’s an old family heirloom that now exists for the enjoyment of visitors. Like a museum. In addition, it’s the kind of garden I can only dream of having. And visit only if I’ve been a really good girl? I don’t think so.

Today I got up, ate breakfast, looked outside, and decided I wanted to visit another garden. Actually, an arboretum I’ve enjoyed for years. The Jenkins Arboretum.

Jenkins Arboretum Rhodo Collection2

Jenkins Arboretum Rhododendron Collection

Did I feel guilty? No. I felt as light as a feather! Especially when I spied a pileated woodpecker on the side of the road as I was driving to the arboretum.

In his book called Sabbath, which I’m still reading, Dan Allender says something like this. When we practice Sabbath, we may begin to notice small Sabbath-like events and moments in our lives during the rest of the week.

I think seeing the pileated woodpecker was a moment of mini-Sabbath delight! So were other moments this morning at the arboretum such as

  • hearing a wood thrush singing the entire time I was there
  • hearing bull frogs croak, and spotting turtles basking in the water-lily pond
  • seeing mountain laurel and varieties of rhododendron in full, brilliant bloom
  • feeling the breeze on my face and hearing it move through the trees
  • being surprised by a vigilant redwing blackbird that kept trying to shoo me off

So here’s the  catch. In order to discover what Sabbath rest is, I have to break an ingrained rule. The rule says I must be productive if I want to earn a guilt-free day of Sabbath rest! I definitely need more practice breaking this rule.

According to the list I picked up today at the Jenkins Arboretum, there are more than 30 gardens within 30 miles of Philadelphia–“more gardens than anywhere else on the continent!” In fact, Philadelphia is known as America’s Garden Capital!

This is most opportune. It seems I’ve been programmed to earn what is actually a free gift available for the taking. Like I said, this is going to need more practice.

Do you have this quirky rule engrained in you?

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 25 May 2015
Photo credit: Chanticleer website, Jenkins Arboretum website, and flickr photo by Ingrid Taylar