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Even if the world were to fall to pieces tomorrow, I would still plant my apple tree. 

—Martin Luther King, Jr.

The poet T.S. Eliot wrote that “ours is in the trying; the rest is not our business.” 

We come into a new year full of hope and expectation, perhaps having made some resolutions about what might be in store for our lives, or how we might like to change.

Intention is the seed that we plant in ourselves to guide us on our path. Whether it is a personal goal you are hoping to achieve, or a major undertaking at work or in the public sphere, there is a power in being clear about your intention for the year—and then in paying attention.  I often encourage friends, colleagues and clients to spend some part of the week reflecting, making the space to both be clear about our intention—for the week, the month, the year or beyond—and taking the critical time in noticing how that intention may or may not be bearing fruit.

In anything we do, our success is tied to the act of tending—intending and attending—which brings a spirit of nurturance into our own lives, and to those with whom we interact. We must be gardeners in both a metaphorical and very real sense—watching the surface of the soil for those intentions to germinate and making sure that they have the water, compost, sunlight and support they need to grow. 

And, paradoxically, we must do this without knowing what will result, but by simply bearing the hope that each seed of intention offers. As Marge Piercy has shared: 

“For as every gardener knows: after the digging, after the long season of tending and growth…the harvest comes.”

January 2007