I was raised in the Catholic faith.  And in the early 1960s you stuck with your faith and did not venture outside of it.  You did not learn about other faiths.  They were not yours, so they were not correct or right or whatever you want to call it.  My parents though were not afraid to let us explore our faith.  They even sent me to Bible School for a week one summer when I was about 7 because my friend Karen was going.  It was interesting how much more of the Bible she knew and that many of her faith’s stories were the same or similar to my stories.  My parents got a lot of grief from family and friends about it, but they had faith it was the right thing to do.

I think the characters from the movie, Miracle On 34th Street said it best, “Faith is believing in something when common sense tells you not to.” And I am sure you have heard the phrase “taking a leap of faith”.  We have all done it at some point; taken the leap.  When my husband and I finally went on our honeymoon 5 years after we were married, we took that leap.  It was 2002 and just about a year after 9/11.  We were headed for Italy, specifically the Island of Capri.  The pictures here are of Capri.  And it is one of the most beautiful, peaceful places on the face of the Earth.  We decided not to use a travel agent or go on a tour.  We went online, found a hotel, emailed them and made reservations.  Then we made flight reservations to Naples on Alitalia and that was that.  Of course we had no idea how we would get to the island, but my husband assured me it would not be a problem.  They have boats; we’ll find one.

You have to understand I never do this.  I have to plan everything to the last detail and be sure of all the details.  And right on schedule about a month before we went I started to get nervous.  I purchased some tour guide books and was obsessing about the boats.  I finally talked myself into being calm and relaxed and just going with whatever happened.  And you know I think I never enjoyed a trip more.  We were delayed in Milan for 3 hours, and once we got to Naples we found out our luggage had stayed behind in Milan.  We were assured it would follow us to Capri the next day-sure it would.  Now I was getting nervous.  No I did not pack a carry on, I was taking a leap remember.  Upon inquiring how to get to the boats for Capri using sign language, English and limited Italian (we found many places did not speak English-silly us), we hopped a city bus to the port.  We missed the tour bus, but thank God we did not have luggage because a city bus has no place for it and seats about 10-the rest stand; and it travels the less travelled tourist routes….very interesting but remember we were leaping!!

We reached the port found the next boat out and climbed aboard.  It was a long ride past Mount Vesuvius and the coast line but it was stunning.  It was late afternoon and we had a piece of pizza on the boat—amazing flavor but of course we were in Italy-OMG we were in Italy!!!  We docked and found someone who knew where our hotel was.  We took the funiclare-the funicular railway up to the piazza and wound through many narrow passageways until we came to a road to our hotel.  Now understand there are no cars on this part of the island.  As we walked to the hotel, I started to smell the most heavenly scent, one that we would find everywhere on the island-jasmine.  And there were flowers blooming everywhere-this was mid October.  And yes our luggage arrived the next day and I wore my clothes for 36 hours, but I never had more fun on a trip.  The leap worked and I was in heaven…..

Today I feel am accepting of all religions and enjoy learning about the many teachings from other spiritual leaders because my parents took a chance and let us explore.  And recently I have reconnected with my spiritual core.  Interestingly this happened through gardening.  You see I think of gardening as a kind of religion and very spiritual.   A religion can be defined as,

  1. “a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects”
  2. “ritual observance of faith”
  3. “something one believes in and follows devotedly; a point or matter of ethics or conscience”

Now if you are a gardener or know a gardener this definitely describes one.  We have faith that our plants will grow given the right care and sometimes even when given little care….we believe that with enough water and sun seeds will germinate and bring forth a harvest.  We believe plants will reappear from the barren ground when the earth warms again in the spring.  We go through this ritual every year.  We try to do no harm to the Earth and “be green”.  We daily worship in our gardens the wonders all around us sometimes growing despite us.  And we feel the spirit of the garden; its divine sacredness.

So how could you not have faith if you garden?  And if you have lost faith, it is the perfect place to find it again.  To know the truth, the certainty that the beauty of this world, the wonder is growing, breathing all around you…take that leap!

Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.  Martin Luther King, Jr.


  1. Debbie McMurry says:

    Donna, I so agree with you that gardening and faith go hand and hand! Love your beautiful story and pictures. And yes all religions pretty much believe in the same wonderful ending.
    I couldn’t be happy without my gardening and faith!

  2. Jan (Thanks For Today) says:

    This is beautiful, Donna. I agree with your philosophy. We went to Capri in 1987 and I remember it as you’ve described it. I’ve always wanted to go back and stay there. We went as part of a ‘tour’ so were there for just a part of a day. The water around the island was the bluest I’ve ever seen. I believe I stood exactly where you did to take your photos. I wish I had better pictures though…we didn’t have digital at that time.

    • Donna says:

      Jan, you are so right the water is the bluest I have ever seen….if you get a chance go back and stay for a week or at least a long weeknd and explore the island and just live…the gelato, the food and the limoncello were incredible….the pictures remind me of each days adventures as we climbed and explored…

  3. tina says:

    Well said! I don’t practice religion except that of my faith in my garden. Such a lovely post and it looks like a dream vacation!

    • Donna says:

      thx Tina…I don’t practice religion either anymore but feel the faith and spirit in my garden…it was definitely a dream vacation

  4. Gardening Jones says:

    “Faith” is the one thing that all gardeners have in common! The belief that this seed will grow, that this season will produce.

    I love the way you did your honeymoon! Mandolin and I did the same to Ireland on our 30th anniversary (about time for a honeymoon!) – I heard the best way to see Ireland is to get lost, so we did.
    Its a great way to discover nature, and faith as well. And to learn faith, as you did.

    Your blog just keeps getting better!
    You go- and grow- girl!

    • Donna says:

      Love Ireland too…we are hoping to get back to Italy for another honeymoon and get lost in Tuscany this time…gardening dream…thx for your wonderful words about the blog…trying to keep up reading both yours…keeping the faith though!!! 🙂

  5. Janet/Plantaliscious says:

    Three Cheers for your parents for allowing you to explore other faiths and to you for “taking the leap” and having such a wonderful holiday as a result. I find that gardening grounds me and can give me peace and hope when I most need it. I certainly have spiritual moments out there. And I absolutely believe in the value of taking the occasionally leap into the unknown, it seldom fails to promote growth and enhance my life.

    • Donna says:

      I definitely believe I am open to so many faiths and borrow from many in my quest for my spritual core because my parents were ahead of their time. I agree the garden is where I find spritual moments….here’s to more leaping in 2011…

  6. Mary says:

    You are a great story teller. I love the continuous reminder that you were taking a leap of faith as a reformed (sort of) planner. Maybe we should all take that piece away with us from this story. I need to remember to go with the flow more often. Thank you for the reminder as the new year approaches.

    • Donna says:

      Mary you are welcome…it has taken me a long time to go with the flow…I am so much more relaxed and happy for doing so…but I still have parts of my life where I need to embrace this…just keep reminding myself to work on it…have a wonderful, easy-flowing 2011!!

  7. Donna says:

    This was such an inspiring post. Such a great way you have written it to. The leap of faith can be applied to so much in life, religious and otherwise. This was a wonderful trip you had and also took us on. You photos are breathtaking.

    • Donna says:

      thx Donna…it is easy to take great pics in Italy…these pics were taken with an old fashioned disposable camera with film….Italy is an inspiring place….glad you took the leap and were inspired!! Love your blog!!

  8. Cat says:

    A beautiful and thought provoking post. We went to Italy on our honeymoon too. Our favorite spot was Portofino…we look forward to going back when we get the youngest in college! Enjoyed my visit to your blog. Welcome to Blotanical!

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