Editor’s note: The following is a Farm and Ranch Life column published in 2012. Dr. Mike Rosmann’s column will return after a holiday break.
I do some of my best thinking in the raspberry patch. At the end of a mind-numbing day that has frazzled me, from late July until the first hard frost, I often end up picking red raspberries from our ever-bearing canes.
Most gardeners, farmers and other who have access to the outdoors will attest they do some of their best thinking in their “raspberry patches.”
For me it’s not always the raspberry patch where I can isolate myself from responsibilities temporarily. The tall rows of pole beans that have climbed cattle panels I attached to steel posts in one of my raised bed gardens provide another good place for solitude. I can pick beans and meditate at the same time.
The thick groves of pines and cotoneaster bushes surrounding our farm and the tall prairie grass on our CRP ground also provide good places to meditate. I don’t take my cell phone with me, but I tell my wife, Marilyn, where I am headed so she can find me if necessary.
I have to allow sufficient time to become grounded. I let my mind sail to wherever it wants to go. It always sails to the things that most need to be attended to. My gut tells me what is important to review.
Maybe I said something hurtful or inadvertently offended someone. Or maybe I was treated unfairly and now I feel angry.
Lessons from picking beans
Metaphorically speaking, picking beans is a lot like life.
If I approach the garden thinking there won’t be many beans to harvest, I usually can’t find enough for a meal. I pay the price for this outlook the next time I pick beans, for I usually discover overly mature beans that I previously overlooked. Now they are beyond their peak of delicious flavor and tenderness.
If I proceed to pick beans with an attitude that I will find enough for a meal, I almost always find enough for supper.
Some of the best beans are at the bottoms of the plants and hidden among the stems and leaves. That’s the way life is too — some of our most teachable moments occur when we bottom out. When I learn I become buoyed up.
Some of the best people I encounter are those at the bottom of the human pecking order. They know humility and acceptance better than most of us. I learn from them.
I have a wanderlust-filled friend who spent several months during the 1970s working with Mother Teresa, the Albanian nun who devoted her life to caring for the most destitute in Calcutta, India. Tom asked Mother Teresa when he began his sojourn if she would teach him compassion.
For several weeks, Tom worked in the hospital operated by the Missionaries of Charity. Periodically he repeated his request to Mother Teresa; she did not answer him.
Just as Tom was about to give up his request and move on with his life, that evening Mother Teresa told Tom to meet her at 4 a. m. the next morning by the hearse the sisters used to haul the sick and dying to the hospital. She asked Tom to drive the vehicle.
As they traversed the streets of Calcutta, Mother Teresa directed Tom to pull next to a sickly man too weak to drag himself to the curb. She gathered the gravely ill man in her arms and told him, “My brother, you are saved.” Together, she and Tom maneuvered the dying man onto a gurney and lifted him into the hearse.
After unloading the sick man at the hospital, the two set out to find other indigents in great need of care. They spotted an emaciated man lying in his vomit on the side of the road and covered with flies and feces.
Mother Teresa directed Tom to pick up the man. As he approached the deathly ill man, Tom was so put off by his odor and filth that he halted; he began to cry.
After several minutes Tom regained his composure. Tom cradled the sick man in his arms and easily lifted him into the hearse by himself, gently voicing, “Be comforted my brother.” But as Tom thanked Mother Teresa for teaching him, she said, “Thank the man who you just cared for.”
Where you do your thinking
My experiences of insight usually aren’t as powerful at Tom’s, but in their own way completely remake my outlook. They bypass me if I don’t discipline myself to meditate. If I neglect prayer on a regular basis, something always nudges me.
Meditation is cleansing and “opening up.” Sometimes I don’t find the answers right away, and I have to spend a lot of time in my garden or other niches to figure out things right. I can feel when I have attained peace.
Where do you meditate and work through issues?
Readers can contact Dr. Mike Rosmann at www.agbehavioralhealth.com. The author is taking some time away to respond to other obligations.