Wendy O'Leary

Who knew so much teaching could fit into a tiny rose bush! The learning began slowly several years ago when I excitedly planted several rose bushes near the waterfront in my yard so I could enjoy some beautiful bright flowers. I am not a great gardener so I was overjoyed when they started to bloom and in fact would look out my bedroom window each morning and smile. They should bloom all summer so you can imagine my surprise when my yard was full of pink blooms one day and was totally barren the next. Upon inspection, it was clear that a beaver had decided he also liked my sweet roses and off they went! This began the multi year adventure of bringing some of them back to life (and I confess getting some new ones) and trying to discourage my beaver friend from coming in our yard. 

Over these few years I think some lessons are finally beginning to sink in….. 

You can’t stop nature. The beaver is part of the nature of being on a lake. As is the turtle, snake, birds and others. It is part of what I love about living here. So can I flow with the nature of things and not get caught up in how I want it to be? Can I relinquish just a little bit of my effort to control? My garden area is now an odd and messy collection depending each year on what is resilient enough to make it back from the brink of beaver induced extinction and what has been moved in the hopes of being out of the beaver’s range of interest. And there is the turtle who digs in our yard each year to lay her eggs…but that is a story for another day. Not to mention the nature of the plants themselves, which is equally impressive, especially the two rose bushes that just keep popping back up! Now my messy and loved garden reminds me of the wildlife that I am blessed to have in my area, and an unmistakable reminder that things don’t always go a certain way….my way. Who knew? 

And let us not forget that it is not personal. The beaver is not out to get me. The beaver is just doing what beavers do. Though I confess everyone seems surprised by the rose bush choice so apparently it is a beaver with excellent taste, which happens to be similar to mine. This is just what is happening in my garden. What would it be like to hold it more lightly and not take my garden and my desires quite so seriously? A neighbor happily reinforced this message by leaving a sign in my garden saying “beaver diner”. I laughed out loud and appreciate this lighthearted reminder that this is the beaver’s space too… the beaver and I can share. 

Being with what is can be a powerful practice, even if “what is” happens to be a “rose bush eating beaver”. It is an easier place to start practice than beginning with a person who is doing something you do not like or all the other places in life where things do not go as we wanted or hoped. Now when life doesn’t go as planned, I ask myself, how do I want to be with this situation? Noticing if I get reactive or if it can simply be unpleasant, not what I planned, and yet also not a problem. It is my choice to make it a problem, or not, and that is such a powerful lesson beyond the world of beavers and gardens. 

And finally, Can I totally and completely enjoy the roses and see them as already gone? Can I love them, take in their beauty and still not be attached to seeing them tomorrow? This is a hard lesson, less so with roses and more challenging in other areas of life, as I am sure you can imagine. So I am letting my bushes teach me this lesson where there are only small thorns to deal with and I can practice gratitude for that which I love and occasionally rest back in the grace of non-attachment.


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