When I was a child my mother, a very wise woman, had a huge pumpkin patch. I often was a little bit scared to go in there because there were often garter snakes that would crawl through the vines. It was not that they could harm me, but that it would freak me out when suddenly they would move around me. Nonetheless, we had pumpkins to harvest, so into the patch we would go…to lose our minds and find our souls.
This, to my mother, was a prime opportunity to share some of those shamanic wisdoms that she, herself, had been taught as a child . So as we would be harvesting, she would say things to me to get me to think in different ways. This is how the conversation would go:
Mom: Life is like a pumpkin patch.
Me: how’s that?
Mom: Well, it is important to stay well-rooted when walking through life. That way you get the nourishment you need in order to grow and be productive in the world.
Me: Well, if I become as productive as this pumpkin patch, then the world is just not gonna know what to do with me.
Mom: Do you see how all the vines are intertwined?
Mom: Well, this reminds us that it is important to stay connected to those around you. That way no one has to ever feel all alone in the world.
Mom: Pumpkins grow best with a balance of light and shade, just like humans grow best when we have both joy and adversity.
Me: I personally think that sucks…the adversity part.
Then later in the kitchen, as we are carving pumpkins…
Mom: As we pull out all the pulp and seeds, it is like when we are meditating…clearing our minds of all the debris.
Me: But don’t we want seeds for next year?
Mom: Exactly…but we can’t find all the seeds with the pulp in the way…just like we can’t find positive things if our minds are full of muck. This is why we have to open our minds, like the top of the pumpkin, and empty out what is no longer of use, and then keep what is of use
As we scraped away the inside of the pumpkin, putting the fruit of it aside for making pies, she would say,
Mom: This is like how we have to dig deep to find the treasures in life that bring us joy. But it doesn’t always look or feel like what we would expect, just like the fruit of the pumpkin is nothing much until it is processed into something that creates a pumpkin pie.
Me: Well, that is my favorite pie.
Mom: As we cut the eyes for the Jack’o’Lantern, remember that as we go through life we have to keep our eyes open. Otherwise we will not see the truth of things and we will be blinded to reality.
Mom: As we cut open the nose we are reminded to keep our other senses active. Don’t just rely upon what we can only see to create our reality.
Mom: As we cut open a smile on the Jack’0’Lantern, we are reminded that a warm smile can make the worst of things feel better for those around us.
Mom: And finally, as we light the candle inside the Jack’o’Lantern, we are reminded that it is important to allow our inner light to SHINE out to the rest of the world.
I know that it might seem silly, but to this day, years and years later, and many years after my mother’s passing, I can still hear her words as we processed the pumpkins from her pumpkin patch. Every year after that when I would be assisting in the harvest of the pumpkin patch, I would ask her again to share the wisdoms that she had the year before, and the year before that. I always loved how she correlated everything into a “how to be in the world” lesson. This I will always treasure.