I’m loving summer. Every single day. I’m savoring it. Here in the Midwest we know that these long, hot days are an extravagance that is short lived. For me, summer means a lot, A LOT, of outdoor flowers. I love to plant them in beds, in pots, in all kinds of curious vessels. Each year I invest in more and more perennials that will come back time and time again. I love being outside tending to them, figuring out which ones need more shade, less water, more sun, etc. and then watching them flourish and grow once I’ve got it right.
All of my plants have different needs. I can’t treat them all the same or they won’t survive. I sometimes have to move them from place to place, finding the “right spot” for each one. I have to try watering daily or every other day or once a week, and let the plant show me when I’m doing it right. One of the essential tasks, with many of the varieties I have, is deadheading. After a flower blooms and then dies, I pinch the dead one off so a new one can bloom. This way the plant doesn’t expend valuable energy and nutrients where it doesn’t need to. Today I was outside, tending to a plant that is not doing well and it sparked some thoughts.
As I was pulling out the dead stems and pinching off the dead blooms, I started thinking that if someone were to look at this plant presently, you might not think much of it. You might think it was a lost cause. But you don’t realize that it looks BETTER now than it did 30 minutes ago before I pruned it. Don’t we so often judge people in the moment, when actually we don’t know their story? We don’t know what their life looked like 30 min ago, or 30 days ago or 3 years ago. They might seem like a lost cause, but maybe they are so much better than they were. A work in progress, as I remind all of my clients that we are. Maybe they were flourishing and suddenly, or gradually, what they needed to thrive was removed or diminished or changed. And now we see them at work, at Target, at church, diminished, undernourished, and we judge them, not knowing if it’s their best day or worst day or somewhere in between.
Also, with my plant, I have the advantage over the observer by knowing how beautiful this plant was when I bought it. It was gorgeous. Overflowing with beautiful blooms. I’ve seen the plant at it’s best. I know what it can look like when it gets what it needs. Unfortunately, it’s present state is my fault. I didn’t give it what it needed. I feel like it was needing more sun, and I have moved it to a place it will get that. Time will tell if I’m right. The signs were all there, dying leaves, fewer blooms, drooping stems, but even though I noticed, I didn’t change how I nurtured the plant until today. I know the potential this plant holds, and I wasn’t do my part to help it thrive.
Have you ever watched a relationship or a person slowly display all the signs that it wasn’t getting what it needed, and didn’t take time to nurture it? You know the potential it holds, you used to be happy with your partner, you used to be great friends with someone. You have to invest the time to find out what is missing, and then adjust your care so that it thrives again. If the right care is given, the relationship or person can often bloom again. It can come back to life before your eyes. But you have to be curious, and work, and be willing to admit you are doing something that isn’t working
Sometimes I buy plants on clearance. I call these my Charlie Brown plants. They usually look pretty bad. I enjoy the challenge of seeing if I can revive them. The reward is pretty sweet if I can figure out it’s needs and bring it back to life. But much of that work is guessing. As humans, we can tell others what we need. We can reach out and say, “Hey! I’m not getting what I need.” We can ask for help. But it’s hard sometimes. For so many reasons. I want to encourage you to reach out if you are not getting what you need. I want to encourage you to invest if someone around you is showing signs of neglect or not getting what they need to bloom. We can’t bloom where we are planted without care.
“In the garden of love, flowers don’t die.”
― Nitya Prakash