Do you remember the experiment in Science class?
You take a vibrant healthy plant and set it near the window. You give it a coat of radiant warmth. You give it water to drink and nutrients to encourage growth. You watch over it. Everyday.
Another plant, also vibrant and healthy, you place inside a dark closet. No food. No water. No sun. You look at it. Everyday.
Being a good scientist, you make a chart. Collect data. Measure growth. Mark the calendar. Make observations. Plot a curve.
In the end, you set both plants on your lab table. One is full of young shoots adorned with tiny blooms. It has grown so well under your tender care that its roots poke out through the bottom of the pot.
The closeted plant pales by comparison. Stunted. Wilted. Yellow leaves hang down, some so withered they litter the soil. The arid soil. Lost to neglect.
"To Neglect" is an active verb,
even though it may be written in the passive voice.
Neglect is an option. A choice. To not see. To ignore. Intended inattention. It may come trick or treating in its costume of I forgot, I meant to, I would have, I could have, I should have.
The truth is hiding in the closet.
I had a choice and I didn't...
I didn't see you.
In the closet where I put you.
Gardeners gather round. You know you cannot bring the rain, or manage the sun. Sometimes pests bite and sting, or the weeds get a grip. Occasionally, the climate disagrees with your choices. What flourishes in southern temperate climbs, will stumble without a daily misting and steady warmth. Even hardy perennials up north, will wither and die when there is no respite from the heat of noonday sun.
To garden is to be responsible. For life. To life. A choice.
You can say you are sorry to the abandoned plant, but...
You were busy. You forgot. You meant to. You would have...
I'm sorry...followed by the word "but" is merely an excuse.
Gardeners are wanderers. They roam the borders. Walk the rows. Peek under the edges. Stroll. Amble. Learn the lay of the land.
Gardeners do the work. Hoe, rake, dig, plant, feed and water.
Get their hands dirty and their feet wet.
Gardeners are sensitive. They smell the rain before the thunderclouds appear. They tie up weaker branches to stakes for support. They imagine fully grown foliage even as they hold a seed in the palm of their hand.
Gardeners are intentional caregivers. Like parents, with eyes in the back of their heads, they keep an eye out for trouble, compliment and cajole. And like parents, they know, no matter how much they study, read or practice, stuff happens. Out of their control.
Gardeners give, not for what they will or will not receive in return. They give because loving, caring and cherishing is how they honor themselves. When you give away what you need most, a gardener knows there will never be drought.
I promise you, from one of life's gardeners to another...
if you think of yourself as worthy of praise, kindness and honor...
what you give away to others, with heartfelt intention,
will return to you,
when you least expect it and when you need it most.
You can choose to walk in a straight line looking straight ahead.
Or you can expand your gaze just in time to see the tiny blossom between the cracks in the sidewalk, courageously stretching toward the sun to eke out its existence. Now, imagine, its glorious transformation, transplanted, nourished by tenderness and kind words, smiling toward the sun and filling you with grace.
And an occasional sidestep to see it lying await in our path.