One of the intimacies of gardens is the mysteries of their silent growth. Many times, people are unaware of that invisible work; that work taking place, for beauty to thrive. The work is hidden and quiet. Gardens and other lavish spaces of vegetation articulate the wonder of Mother Earth. The final product highlights just how pleased Mother Earth is delighted in herself. Yet, the process of such delight is not always pretty, or dainty. In fact, the invisibility of her pain and perseverance, in creating a majestic arena, is rarely observed. It is a necessary process, for humanity to enjoy the level of peace, as associated with her majesty.
In the world of womanhood, the traditions of finding comfort and rest in one’s gardens is as old as time. It is as ancient as the times. Womanhood is intertwined with the very abundance of gardens, as it symbolizes the wonders of creativity, her ability to make colorful, stylish gardens; filled with myriad design. What is grown is infinite wonder of mystery, nutrition, and fruition. After all, it was in the garden, where knowledge was first produced. Wisdom is birthed in such spacing. Sisterhood, and its comfort, is developed within this realm of vegetation. Furthermore, the wonder of feminine aesthetics are cultivated, studied, and mastered within gardens. Their beauty is inviting, and yet their purpose, is sacred. Rebirths and healing thrives in gardenal spaces. When life becomes hectic, painful, and misunderstood, it is to the garden, where women can return, in order to gain a sense of clarity. Exciting, is it not?
For Black American womanhood, identity, and development of culture, gardens became a site of cultivation, and the continuation of a people. For Black American people, gardens are physical, metaphorical, and a realm of the performing and creative arts. In fact, it is the garden, which saved the very sanity of our Black American foremothers and forefathers. Our music, design, and culture became our gardens. It was in these spaces, where we released the agony neglect from femininity’s domain. It was in these musical gardens, where Black American women could release emotional toxicities of their day-to-day living experiences; performing this therapy, in such a way, that it became popular to listen to. Furthermore, such gardens were also reflective of the production of happiness, in spite of the rains!
In 1983, famed womanist, novelist, poet, and short story writer, Alice Walker, gave the call for Black American women to return to our own sacred, cultural gardens in the book, In Search Of Our Mothers’ Gardens. It is a collection of writings, highlighting those rich spaces, our foremothers left behind. Somehow, we had gotten separated from them. We have been removed, and distant, from them long enough. And so, it was time to return. There was nothing more left to say, about it.
In the video for the song, “A Rose Is Still A Rose,” by the legendary and iconic Aretha Franklin, viewers are given incite into one story line of Black America’s mothers and maidens, within our cultural gardens. That magical culture, birthed from that Deep South, Black American, Black Church-based culture. In the video, and song, Aretha Franklin performs the role of the Mother image. She is the personification of Mother Earth. Through another lens, viewers are also presented imagery of magical realism, and the storyline of the Sheroe’s journey. Yet, its through the narrative of Black America’s magic and coloration.
Its a powerful theme and message. The aesthetics of the video not only entertained the imaginary psyche of our cultural havens, but is also provided a storyline into what happens when we abandoned our gardens. Getting off track, and running towards men’s validation because we think its more fulfilling. Tricked into thinking it is more rewarding than the gardens.
Within the video, we have the tale of one Black American maiden, and her journey of returning to the garden, to heal from the brokenness of heartache’s discomfort. Her journey begins in the urban sectors, in the company of her fellow maidens. Initially, they are bonded. There is a particular journey, and destination they are meant to partake, together. Yet, with the coming of a man, she abandons that journey. I guess the thrill of his excitement, and the attention he gives her, is “more important” than being with other women. I guess so.
So, our beloved maiden entertains the affections she is receiving from this particular male gaze. For the moment, she feels good, important, and nourished in a man’s attraction to her. Its evident that she has never received this kind of attention from a man. It makes her feel “worthy” of the benefits of femininity. However, little does she know that it is temporary. Our innocent, young maiden will soon learn a hard lesson that when you run after a man, the value of your womanhood declines, as it is centered in nothingness. A woman without the centering of her gardens is powerless. Without the naturalness of feminine power, a woman has no knowledge of understanding, of her movement’s purpose in Earth’s domains. She wanders lost, becoming drained in her efforts to seek men’s validation for the value of her life. Little does she know that is it her holistic positioning, in Earth’s vegetation, which brings foundation, and amplifies her value. And a man truly values a woman, when he makes the effort, to seek her, within the confines of her garden. It is this age-old tradition in how man explored the aesthetics, associated with womanhood, in order to appreciate the naturalness of woman!
Our young, Black American maiden is broken. The aesthetical wonders of this video makes it very clear that the male-seeking attention for the validation of self is, fruitless. That kind of connection to men does not nourish her. On the contrary, it actually drained her of her fruits. Eating them for selfish pleasures. Ravaging them for images of power over her Earthly spacing, while abandoning her, without replanting her gardens.
Yet, there is hope. One of the beauties of becoming broken, is that it forces the feminine to return to the gardens for healing, and the release of pain. She is broken, but that does not mean she can no longer grow gardens. A rose is still a rose! Nature does not stop growing simply because man does not appreciate, or value, her. She will always blossom, in spite of. We just have to be brave enough to find her.
Let’s not forget there being a natural sensory of woman to her gardens. Our broken maiden is wandering. Yet, somehow, she manages to find her gardens. Sorrow leads her back to them. In this particular case, we are observing Black American women to our peculiar, cultural, and musical paradise. Gardens left for us by our foremothers. Waiting for our return, that we may continue our culture, femininity, aesthetics, womanhood, and people. After all, the destruction of any people does not begin with the onslaught of the men. In actuality, it starts with the removal of the women from their natural creativity, production, and wellness with the Earth. Daughters of Black American soiling, are you aligned with the healing patterns of the Earth? Are you heeding the call of our foremothers in returning to our gardens for nourishment, nurture, and healing?
A sigh of relief crosses our emotional haven, when our maiden enters into her garden; a spacing reflecting the intimacies, and sacredness, of her own culture. Sitting in the chair, upon her entry, is the Mother figure of the garden, as performed by Aretha Franklin. Its as if she had already sensed her presence, and knew, that a lost maiden would return. It was inevitable. The entry of our leading maiden into Earth’s natural domain is breathtaking. Not only is she in awe of this spacing, but little did she know that she had access to this holistic placing, all along. All she had to do was come in!
The garden is enchanting, indeed! Colorful. Vivacious. Musical. Even more delightful, is the presence of other maidens. The vigilance of Lauryn Hill, Faith Evans, and others, illuminates the wonders of being in the comfort, and creativity, of other young maidens. It has been stated before. Yet, we can reclaim it, again! The maidens of any culture, tends to the gardens. It is their energy, which spreads the magic, and grows the vegetation! The youthfulness of maidens is reflective of the productivity, and re-birth of a people. If the maidens are lacking, or removed from the garden, something is wrong! Instability has occurred, and harmony must be, restored!
There is a happy ending for our young, lost maiden, after all. There is the euphoric voice of our Mother image, guiding her back to the garden; a garden which celebrates, illuminates, and regenerates her image-within one soiling of the United States. She is a Black American maiden, and she too, has a garden of her own. The wonders of her cultural aesthetics are, infinite! Alas, there is hope for her! Now that she has returned, she will receive the wisdom of her foremothers. She will learn proper intertwining with men, and how they are to seek feminine imagery, of their culture. While being in the garden, she will become a master cultivator; practicing the artistry of her feminine aesthetics. She will learn the tools, and perform the skills to maneuver within and outside garden’s domains. This is the greatest victory! It is the best revenge! Just because her floral scent was polluted by two men, who did not treasure her, does not mean it is erased. Roses will always smell pleasant, even when briefly hacked and worn! What is also precious and sacred about the setting of this video is that it shows the growing of gardens, even within an urban context. That’s the power of their being. Gardens have the power to defy the limitations of boundaries and borders; based on the differentiation of human dwelling. In urban, Black American communities, gardens are greatly needed! In fact, the video for “A Rose Is Still A Rose,” portrays them as magical, while painting a Special World for ordinary domains!
There are maidens of Black American soiling, slowly waking up to heed the call. A charge to healing must begin. Different realms in this particular journey. Nevertheless, it is a path lost maidens must take. Regardless of where they are, the garden still calls. Mother is vigilant, and her songs radiate nourishment throughout her unique positioning in Earth’s domain. It is wonderful for our time, for our maidens to come. Painting our words and sculpting our songs. Only this time, it is we who shall benefit from it; who shall own it. It is we, who shall be adorned, in the musical traditions birthed from our gardens. Once we have found healing, once our energy has been restored, so will healing occur for the men and children, birthed of our gardens. They will comprehend, and come to realize their feminine image, as one of nutrition and rebirth, for their own existence. Not only must they be treasured, but masculinity, within our community, will be vulnerable enough to awaken to their very need of nourishment, within their cultural gardens. They, too, can find healing from their gardens! No longer will our maidens be treated as easy sex objects, to be discarded, after destroying their fruits. Once there is centering in the gardens, a wellness movement, arises. Replant those peculiar flowers of US soiling! These Blackened flowers, which grew in unfamiliar soiling; adopting the roots, as its own. Water them closely. Smell them with gentility. Caress them creatively, and watch as gardens, bloom!