Veronica Arias stands with a display of her recently published book, “Letters from the Garden: A Spiritual Journey,” Dec. 12 at the Roswell Hispano Chamber of Commerce’s Christmas Tareada at the American Legion. (Courtesy Photo)
Veronica Arias remembers as a young child sitting and watching her grandparents, aunts and uncles work the pecan orchard on Mescalero Road and Sycamore Avenue.
“I just loved to be playing out in the dirt under the heat,” says Arias, 49, an administrative assistant in the Roswell Independent School District.
Her love of working the earth blossomed into a love for gardening, a hobby that bore a strong influence on her first book, “Letters from the Garden: A Spiritual Journey of Growth.”
Published by Genesis Publishing Group in June, “Letters from the Garden” consists of a collection of letters Arias wrote to her uncle, Esteban Pareida, when he was first diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.
Bible verses and floral watercolor paintings accompany the page-long vignettes.
Arias describes the culmination of the book as the result of a combination of happenstance and divine inspiration.
“I just started with, ‘Hey, did I tell you I started a garden,’ “ she says.
According to Arias, her mother’s sister, Vicky Pareida, wife of Esteban, eventually packaged the letters together in a box and returned them to Arias along with a check and a note saying, “This is an investment. I want you to write a book.”
The self-described Christian author says of the final product, “It was God-breathed.”
The book is a capstone to an avocation that started years ago.
Arias began writing in what for her was a new language—English—during elementary school.
Born in Ojinaga, Chihuahua, Mexico, the author moved to Roswell at age 2 with her mother to join Arias’s migrant farmer grandparents.
She entered kindergarten speaking only Spanish. The school district placed her in school a year early, expecting her to have to repeat kindergarten, but the pupil quickly caught up to her peers and no repetition was needed.
Arias praises her aunt for encouragement that she says was instrumental in helping her realize her craft.
Her sophomore English teacher at Goddard High School, “who ‘forced’ me to journal,” also played a role in her development as a writer, Arias says.
“I’ve been journaling everyday since,” she says. “She created a really wonderful habit in me.”
“Letters from the Garden” weaves Edenic imagery with intimate reflections and religious themes.
The last piece in the book, “Harvest,” is about the Moab woman Ruth. Ruth follows her mother-in-law, Naomi, after the deaths of their husbands to Naomi’s home of Bethlehem. There, Ruth survives by gleaning abandoned grains from the fields after harvest.
“I think to myself how I humbly call myself the Lord’s harvester. I once was poor in spirit and He allowed me to glean behind many who had gone to harvest before me,” Arias writes in “Harvest.”
That message is core to the book: “It’s what I would like to see someone take away from it. That they would grow in the fruits of the spirit: love, kindness, patience,” Arias explains.
Of the 500 copies of “Letters from the Garden” printed, only about 40 lay unclaimed by eager readers.
Arias was recognized for her literary accomplishment Dec. 12 during the Roswell Hispano Chamber of Commerce’s Christmas Tareada at the American Legion, where she was hosted as the guest of honor.
The author is in the process of translating “Letters from the Garden” into Spanish. The translated version is slated for publication in June 2014.
More books are to come, all focused on spiritual themes. Arias says she has three new books in the works.