My Secret Garden…of Zen

by Michele Reeves on January 22, 2012

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In the summer of 2011, I found myself mystified as to why, after speaking at the Pacific Intermountain Parking and Transportation Association (PIPTA) conference, I had received a plastic bag of salt, a picture frame, some straws, a few pebbles, a tiny Buddha, and two small mock stone candles.

You see, fairly frequent speaking gigs at land-use conferences garner me a plethora of corporate gift trinkets. They are usually passed down to my daughters, who are still of an age to regard these totes, mugs, water bottles and miscellaneous doohickeys as little treasures. (As a matter of fact, today, my daughter used one of the shoulder bags I received to transport her homework to a coffeeshop so we could work together.)

Anyhow, as I was saying, when I received those strange items from PIPTA, I didn’t give them much thought. In fact, I nearly chucked them. But, with the help of my girls, who wanted to know what this “bag of rocks” was all about, we proceeded to take a closer look.

It turns out that the straws were cradling incense, the Buddha was an incense holder, the salt was white sand, and the rest of it comprised all the elements needed to create a small, desk-sized Zen garden.

My daughters loved the incense, having never experienced it before. They wanted to burn it 24/7, and I was honestly happy when we ran out. Also, it so happened, I adored the Zen Garden. Having worked at it for 6 months though, we have all run out of easy original ideas on what to do next.

We find that inspiration comes in many forms. Contemplatively raking the sand, waiting for genius to strike. (Okay, genius is a bit too strong a word!) Randomly dropping pebbles into the sand and raking around them, hoping something pleasing will emerge. One pattern came to me recently in a dream.

It is strangely compelling…soothing…and addictive.

Now, if we could just get my youngest to stop sloshing the sand over the side, we would be in a truly Zen state!

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