A friend who lives in Brooklyn has a beautiful garden in her backyard that she has tirelessly labored over. The garden initially wasn't much of a garden but it has resulted in a multitude of visual delights. Pictured below is her Wisteria in "full effect".
Lately, I have been learning a lot from The Wisteria (which I will be sharing later in this post). So, I found it serendipitous when I came across this photo from my friend's garden and I had to share some wise observations from the gardener herself on the complexity of this plant.
do you know about wisteria? It's one of those phenomenal plants
-- such a confluence of opposites:
So beautiful, but so invasive and destructive to all other species
in it's way. So sweet, but so delicate. One hard rain and she's wiped out.
Bloom time only lasts 3-5 days and you can't really cut the flowers for
arrangements successfully unless you are hard core = have a glass
refrigerated display case! And, here's an interesting fun fact… she
grows wild, along the B/Q trains out here in my hood (in Brooklyn). The whole area smells amazing this week while she is in full bloom!
I love the juxtaposition with this plant. She's so complex, similar to the individual psyche. There are days when we may feel frail and weak, where the slightest wind can throw us. Yet there are other days when we feel strong and anchored, able to handle the toughest elements. Similar to The Wisteria, she can withstand the tough elements that are NYC and even bloom next to a subway for goodness sakes! However, she only blooms for under a week and then she is "wiped out". I find that sometimes we too, can experience days with seamless ease, where we give off a fragrant scent to all who we encounter and then there are other days where we are "wiped out". We can be destructive to the same people we want to bless. Why is this? A mentor recently shared with me that she feels that the climate of our culture makes no room for sadness or days when we are not quite ourselves. We often hear statements like: "get over it", "pull yourself up by your bootstraps", "toughen up". There is this push to "get over" what feels troublesome as soon as possible. So, how can we address the times when we feel longing, sadness or loneliness?
The answer may be related to The Wisteria. Recently I read in Mark Buchanan's The Rest Of God about the restlessness we can experience even amidst rest. Buchanan makes the point that Sabbath is for our rest but it is also an excellent opportunity to point our restlessness heavenward. Buchanan remarks that God grants us rest and peace but not enough to fully satisfy, just enough to keep us in the race. In the lapses in space where we are sad, longing or restless we can learn from The Wisteria.
"Like a Wisteria plant, our restlessness needs to be trained to go in a certain direction, or else it follows a path of least resistance. When we recognize that our loneliness, our hunger, our weariness, our disappointment- that these are not final verdicts but only rumors of things unseen, it changes their meaning. It empties them of their power to defeat us. It fills them with an energy to spur us toward deeper hope."- Mark Buchanan, The Rest of God
Can you make space for the "restless" times, the sad or lonely times? Instead of seeing these moments as alien invaders and wanting so desperately for them to go away, maybe we can greet these parts of ourselves and without destructive reactions train these parts to lean in a certain direction. Like The Wisteria, we too can posses beauty and destructiveness. It all depends where we lean.
Where do you tend to lean?
" lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight"- Proverbs 3:5-6