“Gardens are about memory.” Thomas Lucas, S.J., Associate Professor of Visual Arts at the University of San Francisco, could not have described gardens more perfectly.When I hear the word ‘garden’ vivid memories begin swirling about in my head. As I stand distracted and drawn away by childhood memories of countless summers spent on the 100 acre Rowell Family Farm. I can once again see the bright July sun shining on the brilliantly colored picture-perfect flowers, feel the dew of early morning grass on my tiny feet as I ran barefoot through the fields that, as a four-year-old, reached unquestionably straight up to heaven and the cloudless blue sky, and just as my mouth begins to water…I can almost taste the frying bacon and fresh banana pancakes, that made up the traditional—Interruption! Screaming sirens from a team of ambulances and firetrucks race down the crowded San Francisco streets, and I instantly snap out of my state of reminiscing as I am hurled back into reality.
The memories that Father Lucas spoke of are more specifically experiences of— “LIFE. DEATH. GROWTH.” Another phrase that he used to describe gardens. As our Digital Journalism class, wondered wide-eyed through the Jesuit’s ‘secret garden’ at the University of San Francisco’s Loyola House, those three words kept replaying in my head. “Life, Death, Growth” are stages that describe the entire existence of gardens and people alike. Looking into a garden, you will find flowers and plants in every stage of life; from buds in the wet soil to flowers blooming in the sun, as well as plants that have begun to wilt away as the end is near. This garden can easily compared the stages of a humans life; for example, a baby in the womb of his/her mother, a woman basking in the hot-summer sun, and ultimately a person laying peacefully as they have shut their eyes for the last time.
Life is made up of memories, both good ones and bad. Moreover, so are the lives of flowers in a garden. Rambunctious kids were distracted by the blood trickling down their skinned knees from playing kick-the-can; oblivious to the sunflowers and lilies blooming in the sun in their mother’s garden on summer days that seemed endless. The bitter winter brought devastating news, and tears soaked the cheeks of her family and friends, her death seemed like a bad nightmare, one we would ultimately never wake-up from; just as the daises and roses were smothered and smashed under the ten feet of snow and ice from a harsh Chicago storm.
As flowers wilt away, so do the sweet memories of being children and the ones that once haunted our dreams. New seeds will be planted, and new memories will be made. Flowers will bloom and children will grow. It is all merely a cycle, a cycle we come to know as “Life, Death, & Growth.”