The Symbol In Front Of You — Today Mine Is Rhubarb

This is rhubarb. It grows in a small garden patch outside my front door. It gets ample unobstructed sun most of the day. It makes for great Rhubarb Crisp, particularly when served warm and with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream slow melting on top.

Rhubarb is growing prolifically. In my small garden patch. It’s a lot of leaf supported by a seemingly much smaller stem. Each year, reliably, it grows from starts cut back to the ground into what is now this mound of rhubarbness.

This rhubarb has history. In my small garden patch. I was given a start from an older man that I respected, who was growing rhubarb in his garden, also unobstructed.

I’m a reasonable contemplative person. I like to make meaning of things. I like to connect ideas. I like to see things systemically. Doing all of this feels like gardening to me.

The particular thought-gardening that feels most prolific to me is often about connecting one’s inner world to the one’s outer world — I love it for me. I love to see this with others. I love to see it in groups.

The symbol in front of me — this is an invitation to an awareness practice. Because I’m reasonably contemplative, and have come to realize that for some of us, our gift is to be reasonably contemplative, without being snooty about it. It starts rather simple, with a question. Try it.

What has your attention?

This question is really code for “What is one thing that has your attention — not the all of your attentive field.” In asking this question, it’s not about a right answer. It’s not about a smart answer. It’s about having permission to name a symbol, whether silly or profound, as an honest answer. For me this morning, one of those symbols is my rhubarb, that grows in my small garden patch, unobstructed.

Question two in this awareness practice is to explore out loud a bit. Try this too.

Why do you think that symbol has your attention?

Again, this is a question of freedom. It’s a request for the “some of it” not the “all of it.” It’s contemplative. Not meant to be snooty or obligingly impressive. To get to more of how one’s inner is connected with one’s outer. For me, I’ve named a bunch of it above. My rhubarb. Spring. Unobstructed. Prolific. Tasty. With history. There’s more, but this is plenty when not seeking a perfectly impressive response.

Question three is a good one. Keep going. Contemplatively simple.

What does your noticing about that symbol have to do with who you are,
what you are doing, and what you might be becoming?

Contemplative. Because inner is soooo not removed from outer. And that’s practical. Because the “now” of things, in the garden patch in the front yard and in the garden patch that is human psyche, delicious when served with ice cream, is soooo not removed from the “long arc” of things. For me, that vibrant growing, unobstructed — my symbol, my meaning — has a bit to do with that troubled relationship I’m in. I wish for vibrant growing. For me, that inspiringingness of spring growth — my symbol, my meaning — has a bit to do with the way that I want the work I’m doing to turn out this week. And, and.

Contemplative. Practical. Like rhubarb. Unobstructed.

To plant, grow, adore, and share awareness. This is massively valuable work. It’s what some of us bring. I have learned that to be given freedom to connect the inner to the outer, the now to the long arc — it’s rich. To witness each other through such honest simplicity, well, that changes a room from the inside out. It grows.

Like rhubarb.


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