The planting season

“The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.”
Thich Nhat Hanh

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.”
― Robert Louis Stevenson

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(a newly planted petunia / Julie Cook / 2015)

Many years ago when I was a mere wide-eyed impetuous young fire cracker,
I spent a great deal of energy wishing I was 10 years further down the road.
I believed I had much to do and I was chomping at the bit to do it.
Anxious,
Anticipatory,
Impatient.

Could God not see my energy, my enthusiasm, my willingness.
I was ready.
Why was He not?

College was frustrating me.
I didn’t know how best to direct my path.
I was more than willing to chuck it all out the window, if God would just point the way.
I knew I had much to do, it’s just that I wasn’t exactly sure that I actually knew what it was,
I was to be doing.
I was in a bit of a desert, or actually stuck on some lone island–languishing and unnoticed.

I wrote countless letters to my poor godpoppa, lamenting my seemingly unproductive position.
I was the anxious kid on the bench with hand jutting up and down,
waving wildly high, “put me in coach”
I was ready, willing and more than sick and tired of waiting.
What in the heck was the hold up??!!

As I’m sure all those letters upon letters from an angst ridden college freshman, sporting rose colored lenses, whose time truly had not yet come as the body may have been willing but, in blessed hindsight, the mind was truly not yet fully developed. . .must have driven him crazy.

He was a wise man.
He was a learned man.
He was a busy man.
He was an important man.
And yet, he would always take time from his most consuming day, stopping all his important things long enough to appease an unripe fruit whose mantra was over and over. . .
When
Where
Why. . .

Found within one of the loving letters written in return was a single key sentence. . .
“There is one thing you need to do, bloom where you are planted, do that one thing you don’t want to do—but do it for me.”

I can remember anxiously finding his letter sitting in my little mail box. I was so excited hurrying back to my dorm room clutching the most wonderfully official looking letter. I just knew within the envelope the key to my future was ready and waiting. His words were always truth personified in my book, if he said it, it was so.
Reading feverishly I came to that single sentence.
“Bloom where I was planted”. . .hummmmmm. . .
But as he added, “do this one thing you don’t much want to do, but do it for me”
I shrugged and resigned myself to holding tight.

And now all these many many years later. . .
an entire lifetime later, I still consider that simple little phrase. . .
Bloom where you are planted

God knows where we are.
He puts us where He wants us.
Often frustratingly to Him, we usually take it upon ourselves to move and relocate–most often prematurely.
However, no matter where we wend up, we must remember God originally planted the seed.
He planted the seed long before we were even born.
The seed has to be watered, fertilized, nurtured, and allowed to grow.
Sometimes the seedling is moved and transplanted. . .no matter, as He continues
Watching
Tending,
Pruning,
Warding off insects and disease.
Without warning and miraculously one magical day,
seemingly out of the blue, a bloom bursts forth.
Hopeful,
Beautiful,
Joyful,
Stately. . .
We are planted and we will in turn bloom—
It’s all just a matter of God’s good timing. . .

Nevertheless, each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them.
1 Corinthians 7:17

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(forsythia / Julie Cook / 2015)

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(tulip magnolia blooms / Julie Cook / 2015)

Succulent yet tenacious

“Nourish your eye and spirit with inspiring things. They will bloom with your tending.”
S.A.R.K
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(a beautiful tray of succulent plants from the local home improvement store / Julie Cook / 2014)

The word succulent conjures up images of plump juicy, as well as sweet, leaves from such plants as the aloe and the agave, as well for most other sorts of cacti. The obvious object of the thick plump leaves is for the storage of water, as these plants are accustomed to living in very arid, hot, desert like environments. This built-in self watering system makes them rather indestructible as house plants for these plants are most forgiving when a regular watering is inadvertently forgotten.

They are not tall showy plants, boasting vibrant blooms, but are rather short and stocky bloomless alien looking vegetation. They often sport such comical names as hens and chicks and lamb’s tails. Appearing in a wide range of colorful tuberous leaves, many varieties often form beautiful patterns with their concentric circles of leaves.

Succulents may appear to be the more lazy of the plant world as they just simply seem to sit around not doing much. Not all of them bloom or produce flowers. They don’t grow very large in stature and they require very little maintenance, often appearing dormant or even dead.

Yet they are a tenacious lot.

They are not faint of heart as they stand up to extreme heat and drought. They can handle being ignored and often forgotten. They are the type of plant that can certainly take a licking as they simply keep on ticking—they have been around for thousands of years. It is said that a single particular little succulent plant, living at the Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, Austria, dates back to 1780.

There is much to be learned from a succulent, or cactus:
They are self preserving (they gather everything they need, storing it for later)
They are self defending (the prickly varieties)
They can be self healing (as well as healing to others, as in aloe)
They can self nourish (they draw from their stored resources, think of sweet agave sugar)
They hold up under pressure (how well do you do in 120 degrees with a 4 percent rainfall total?)
They hold up under extreme heat (again, back to that 120 thing)
They hold up during the dry spells of life.

So it is, on this new day to this new week of this new season of life, that perhaps we should be mindful of the lowly cacti and succulent. Most often over looked at the garden center.
This hardy bunch of little stumpy leaved plants usually sit off to the side, pushed away making room for the rows and rows of garish flowering plants and shrubs–all as we make a mad rush wanting to purchase the more showy colorful plants as we ready our yards and gardens.

In the long run, which plant out lasts the others?

Those pretty boastful show plants most often need constant pampering and babying. Just the right amount of fertilizer, just the right amount of water–too much or too little and death is quickly at hand. We fret who will water the plants during our time away. Many of these plants are annuals, simply good for a single season which can equate to a costly endeavor.

On the other hand, there is the lowly succulent and the cactus. . .they are hardy, forgiving, tenacious, self sufficient, colorful–yet juicy, sweet, plump and long lasting. A rather good combination for endurance and some rather good attributes to attach to living a productive and prosperous life. We can learn much from these humble plants.

Here is to the succulents and cactus, those lowly and most overlooked of plants, yet some of the most hardy plants to have at home in the garden.
Happy Spring and happy planting. . .

Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.”
― Robert Louis Stevenson