Getting to Know Calendula

About two years ago we moved into a new home. One upside was that it had a very large yard which is near impossible to find where we live. One downside was that large yard was a dirt pit. The soil was so compacted and dry, depleted of everything. I spent a few months trying to break into the soil which is mostly clay and sand. Oh yeah, then about a foot down is a layer of round stones running a few inches deep which must be dug through as well. It was so exhausting that I could only do small amounts at a time. Bit by bit I broke up some of the sad leeched soil which seemed to crumble to dust as it was overturned.

Eventually I worked in some fertilizer a kind neighbor dropped off from a farm nearby. I watered the soil, but barely as we were in a declared drought and under water regulation. It seemed futile as the water basically evaporated the second a drop hit the dirt. Nonetheless, I kept at it.

My heart hurt to look at the yard and my stomach ached deep in the pit of it. I knew any remaining money was needed to repair very necessary things indoors so I was even more sad knowing how long I’d have to look at this ailing yard. Nonetheless, over any project that existed in the house, I was determined to bring life to the yard.

In complete honesty, I don’t remember how I decided it but I bought a packet of Calendula seeds and scattered them in a small flower bed I created. A pack of seeds essentially cost no money. Calendula is known to be prolific and can grow in direct sunlight as well as somewhat poor soil conditions (although I thought ours was still too poor). It has bright yellow and orange flowers with bright green foliage so it would certainly add life and joy to the yard. Check, check, and check; it seemed to meet necessary criteria.

Diligently, I watered the seeds. Finally, one day there was a tiny green sprout! I was so excited and jumped around like a little kid. The next day I went right back to visit the little sprout only to find another creature needed it more than I did and it was chewed back down to the earth. Although I was sad, I accepted it, knowing more would sprout. Well, none ever did. The ground remained deserted and leeched all summer, fall and winter. This made me even more discouraged. If Calendula wouldn’t grow, would ANYTHING?

This spring I decided I would try something new but before I had a chance to come up with a plan, I saw many small sprouts covering my flower bed! How was this possible? Those Calendula seeds laid there unprotected through months of intense sun, with no nourishment and now here they were! I begged the bugs to please let a few grow and promised that if they did, there would be plenty for them to eat. Fortunately, this year we also had a lot of winter rain which undoubtedly contributed to the growth. I worked the soil, which was now a bit easier and our yard not only has beautiful clumps of yellow and orange Calendula but also many other medicinal plants as I slowly expand the flowerbeds. My heart is much more at ease as life certainly exists in a few areas of the yard, and there is still much space left to continue to grow the garden.

In all this, I’ve developed such a relationship with Calendula. With permission, hundreds and hundreds of blossoms have been snipped and dried and still Calendula offers more. Aside from the more well-known uses for Calendula, it’s offered me various other healing. And so now I share with you, my letter to Calendula…

Dear Calendula,

You’re a burst of sunshine, a lasting firework seen in daylight. There is a shower of warmth and strength around you and I can’t help but smile when I see your bright little faces covering my flowerbed. Generously you offer abundant orange and yellow flowers for which I’m so grateful. You’re a lovely example of endless giving. From your gifts, wonderful golden oil will be made and used to make healing salves for wounds and inflamed skin. Your petals illuminate our green dinner salads, adding soothing threads of nourishment and beauty. Each day, each interaction, there is so much to learn from you.

Thank you for your lesson of patience and relinquishing control.  When I first scattered your brown, curly, jagged seeds on the earth I was desperate for anything to grow. You made me wait a year and through that I learned I can offer assistance in a process in so many ways, but ultimately I cannot control any outcome.

Thank you for your lesson of offering and having enough. Each day I came out to clip the new blooms you presented, I would step over the garden fence and almost skip over to you, overjoyed at all bursts of joy I saw. After several months of this, I began to step over the garden fence feeling guilty when I saw your gifts. I was so grateful for you but I wondered how much more I could dry and store. My dance became more of a crawl knowing I would waste you because I could not possibly use all you were offering me. As I snipped a flower, I heard a buzz nearby and there was Honeybee dancing on your petals! Soon after, Butterfly joined the party as well. Ladybug and Caterpillar were there too. I was so silly and naive to think you were offering all those blooms only to me. Knowing my herb shelf was well stocked with beautiful dried bursts of orange, my guilt lifted and I am so happy there is much more for others to enjoy as well. With this lesson, the bounty that you have offered to me will be shared with others in whatever form you take for them.

You bring me so much joy and I can’t help myself but to hum and sing when we interact. You hold the power and strength of the Sun but offer it in perfect balance. It’s teaching me how to soften my own light, without dimming it, but allowing it to shine brightly holding power and strength balanced in creativity and joy. Calendula, I’m grateful for your healing and your lessons and very much look forward to any further work we have together.

With so much joy,