The sacred garden
Andrea Bellamy |

I’m happiest in nature.

It shouldn’t come as such a surprise to me to realise this. In a world I’ve often struggled to make peace with, I’ve always felt most calm, most content, in the forest or garden. Sometimes, when I work in the garden, it feels like a holy rite. Something sacred. It’s like a great wave of peace and joy washes over me, and I emerge, cleansed.

In my garden design course this week, we learned about the history of Japanese garden design, and the common thread informing its progression: Shinto. Shinto involves the worship of kami, which can be translated to mean “sacred spirits which take the form of things and concepts important to life, such as wind, rain, mountains, trees, rivers and fertility.” Practitioners have a profound love of nature: they believe nature is sacred, and to be in contact with nature is to be close to the Gods. This love and respect for natural elements has informed Japanese garden design for centuries.

I’m mixing religious metaphors, but perhaps in a past life I was Shinto. Sure, most of the time pulling weeds is purely secular, but I’m sure there’ve been moments of transcendence.



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