I’m convinced pretty much anything can be a metaphor for life’s experiences. I’m also convinced pretty much anything can be positive or negative, depending on one’s outlook at the time. In fact, as I once wrote, I’m sure our reality changes depending on… well… us.
Take, for instance, a garden. If your life were a garden, what would you be growing? Weeds? Flowers? Vegetables? A haven for critters?
The Thumb of Death and Love As an Object of Blunt Force
At one point in time, I would have said my thumb was black. If I touched a green plant, it’d shrivel up and keel over. This isn’t a joke; I once killed a spider plant with tender loving care (i.e. not because of neglect), and those things are supposed to be some of the hardiest houseplants out there.
Funny how that black thumb translated to relationships. I was worse than Raid when it came to the love bug. As I told my best friend recently, I haven’t spent a lot of time in the “gentle” department (I may have been too busy in the “weapons of mass destruction” aisle). Unfortunately, love can be brutal when wielded like a blunt force object.
I had all the best intentions when it came to that spider plant… I just loved it to death. This doesn’t give much hope for the metaphorical gardener of life, does it?
The Brown Thumb, “Survivor Love” and Accidental Growth
I still remember the first plant I ever had that survived. It was a tiger lily; for that matter, it’s still a tiger lily.
You know how I managed to keep it alive? Well, I don’t either. I even mowed the darn thing down the first year because I forgot it was there. It just looked like tall grass. I didn’t feed it; I didn’t water it. I didn’t even weed it. And yet, year after year, that tiger lily still grows up tall and proud. It even has some siblings now.
Kind of like my kids. As I’ve written before, the “nourishing mother” was always a part to play. I was never very good at it, to tell you the truth. While I’ve always loved my children to the utmost that I’m capable of, I haven’t always had a high capability.
In terms of the garden of life metaphor, I didn’t feed their spirits as I should have. I didn’t nourish their love as I should have. To my shame, I may even have mowed them down a few times – not because I forgot they were there, but because I forgot how absolutely, completely, utterly beautiful and precious they are.
And yet… in spite of this, year after year, they grow taller. They grow bigger and brighter than any lazy gardener of life, such as I have been, have any right to expect or deserve. Even as they bicker, my beauties almost seem to weed themselves, until they’re once again bright and full of love. Imagine… if I’d only had that green thumb…
The Green Thumb, Bountiful Love and Miraculous Happenstance
Okay, so now I have this whole flock, group, gaggle… what do you call a bunch of irises? Anyway, several groupings of irises grow outside my house now. I weed them. I talk to them as I check over their petals and leaves, looking for signs of bugs and rot. One of them, a beautiful peach thing, even has a name. She grows in a half shade, half sun area, in a place of honor – out in front of them all.
The flowers in my metaphorical garden, my kids… oh, they are so beautiful. I’ve tended them – with varying degrees of success and consistency (I’m still learning, dear reader, give me time) – for several months, now. Our situation is changing for the better, slowly but surely, and they’re receiving extra helpings of nourishment and love.
Let me make this very clear. My newly found metaphorical green thumb is not my doing. It’s not because I’ve worked so hard to paint it this color. I can safely say this, because I have painted my thumb green several times in the past; the plants recognized the difference and died anyway. I have dug up, metaphorically speaking, whole sections of garden, cultivated the dirt, nourished the plants… and watched them shrivel away.
This brings me to the idea, the understanding, the profound hypothesis of a theoretical inkling, that maybe all this sudden bounty of love and new growth is, perhaps, a miraculous happenstance. Actually, it’s been a whole series of miraculous coincidences, which, in fact, makes them less coincidences and more just… miracles.
Learning From the Master Gardener
By now, if you’ve ever read this blog, you should already know two very important things about me. One, I believe that God is. Two, I understand you might not. That’s okay – because either way, you see, when you pay attention to life, you still learn from the master gardener.
You may call it life’s lessons. Life, as it is experienced in all its marvelous intricacies, twists, turns and convolutions, is a fantastic teacher. You’ve heard the expression, “Hindsight is 20, 20,” I’m sure. Well, the saying implies that you’re seeing the past with perfect vision (i.e. clarity).
For me, the only true bit of 20/20 hindsight was a series of realizations that went something like this:
- This sucks.
- This sucked last time, too, even though I didn’t do things the same way.
- Come to think of it, it wasn’t so grand the first or second time around, either.
- Maybe the problem isn’t the situation.
- Maybe it’s me…
- And I can change me.
All this realization took years to conclude, with life experience after life experience beating it into my head. You have no idea how many lumps I have.
On the other hand, my master gardener has a name – several names, actually: Father, God and Eternal are just a few. From Him, I’m learning lessons I can’t learn anywhere else. –And, in my mind, since He is also the Creator, He created life to be the teacher it is (He’s awesomely smart; you end up learning no matter what you believe).
For example, to God, there doesn’t seem to be a difference between weeds, flowers, vines, bushes and trees. With the proper care and cultivation, they all add beauty to a garden. My Father knows I’m a weed from the inside out, and yet He still takes time to learn my name, talk to me, and make sure I keep growing as if I were a beautiful flower.
The keys, however, are proper care and cultivation, which brings up another important lesson. Different plants need different amounts of nourishment and care. I watered the spider plant to death, not understanding this simple lesson.
People work the same way; some people need love like a full-sun plant needs light. Others are shady people, needing only occasional reinforcement. There is no greater compliment than caring enough about someone to find out what type of plant they are.
I Am a Well-Tended Weed
You know… a well-tended garden has a certain look and feel about it. Even the weeds are nicely trained and growing properly.
A carefully nourished, cultivated life also has a certain look and feel. It produces fruit in abundance: love, happiness, peace, kindness, mercy, patience. As a life is pruned, tended, fed, watered and so on, these fruits seem to multiply and spread. I see them in my life where there used to be nothing but thorns – not all of them, and they’re barely sprouts, but they’re visible.
I am a well-tended weed, slowly but surely producing fruit worth enjoying.
What a miraculous happenstance… To see a master gardener at work!