Consider the flowers…and the people.

549146_10151945404278378_1742843728_nWatering the potted *flowers that adorn the walkway outside Choices has been my spring and summer *spiritual practice. It has become my mission to keep the beautiful flowers alive. Seriously. Just like all the other infinite concerns that beset my heart and soul, keeping the flowers saturated with a needful presence of water to encourage their blooming has been my focus. 

Through the torrential downpours of spring, followed by the seemingly unrelenting siege of summer heat, it has been a challenge – especially for me, a non-gardener. Some of them have not done well, while others having thrived, project a colorful beauty for those walking past to get to our door – I like to think of them as an invitation to find life. 

The flowers are such a reminder of the beauty and goodness that are part of life. It is watching the early flower buds, followed by the hopeful appearance of flowers. But it takes noticing and care. They will be able to do their ‘job’ if we work in concert together. Alone, they will surely fail – those of you who garden in container pots know that special care and attention is required. 

When I have been out of town this summer, I feared that the neglect would be apparent when I returned. In all honesty, I feared that the formerly beautiful blossoms would have turned brown and crispy with all the heat we’ve had! 

Downpours and scorching temperatures can both have the same effect: yes, we need the rain, and yes, we need the warmth, but too much of these good and necessary things wreak havoc with growth and development, nurturing and peace. Timing, as they say, is everything. 

You know where I’m going with this, right? If you know me, you could probably write the rest of this story – my head thinks in metaphors, more often than is convenient – it can be so arduous to tease out these wonderings and potential applications to life. 

In reality, some thrived, while some did not. Potted flowers, much like people, need attention. Had we left them to just buck up and grow on their own, they would surely have succumbed to the natural elements of the seasons. It hit me today while refilling the watering can: our potted flowers are not unlike our guests who come seeking refuge from life storms and desert places. 

My husband is a gardener, and I’ve learned that some plants have different watering and feeding schedules. People fall into this category as well. If people haven’t been ‘watered’ and taken care of, according to their own felt needs (desires), how can we expect them to reflect beauty? If deep roots of stability and strength haven’t taken hold, I’m thinking they might show up a bit wilted and defeated.

These words remind us of the need of rooting well: “When watering your plants, water deeply. Light watering tends to encourage roots to concentrate closer to the soil surface where sudden drying is problem. Deep watering, on the other hand, fosters deeper and stronger root systems.” Deep roots will more easily withstand less than ideal conditions. Because we know that life serves up less-than-ideal-conditions with some regularity, we know that deep roots will more likely encourage bounce back, or resilience.

Nurturing lives of people and sheltering them from the onslaught of life’s storms requires us to know them: listening and learning their particularities, and contributing a steady stream of compassion – a consistent presence – over time. For Choices, it shows up like intentional welcome (as in “We’ve been expecting you – please come in!”), with background music (music helps with stress/anxiety), chocolate, conversation, tissues, and much (attentive/reflective) listening, topic-focused parenting conversations, and provision of practical needs, like diapers, car seats, blankets, and clothing…and groceries, when needed.

Repeat often, with the hope of ever-growing, deep roots. 

Just now, as I step away from this writing, a new mama has come in, with her little seven pound-ish newborn, and she carefully and tenderly lifted him from his car seat. She’ll be celebrated soon at a baby shower to honor her little one’s arrival. She will be showered with goodness, in a form that will benefit, bless and nurture their lives – and, foster a deepening of her root system, that will encourage a more healthy blooming of the life she holds in her arms, her own, and those in her community.

arrow-24848_640As always, thanks for reading. We’re always happy to hear how our words land on our readers. And, if you’re inclined, you can comment with an interest in volunteering a few hours with us each week, as part of our compassionate community of advocates who get to hang out with young & not so young, women, men and mamas and daddies, and grandparents and every age in-between, doing this thing called life. No time, but inclined to lend some (any amount is helpful!) support? Here you go:  And thanks again.

*Our potted flowers appeared one day in spring, as a thoughtful, anonymous gift. Thank you friend.

*Spiritual practice: a regular activity for the purpose of developing and nurturing spiritual development and formation. For me, watering these flowers has been my ‘walking path’ in continuing to grasp understanding of my faith and call.

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