As I was praying for someone, the image of a flower came into my mind. A beautiful flower, it clearly represented the young woman for whom I was praying.
I reflected on flowers, how delicate they can appear, yet they have such strength to grow and blossom even under adverse circumstances. They become so beautiful, fragrant and colorful, with intricate patterns of petals contrasting with the green leaves and stems of the plant. Some, like the rose, have thorns for protection while others seem willing to share their beauty so easily.
Since this flower had appeared when I was praying for my friend, I thought about how people can be like flowers. Indeed, some have thorns to protect themselves, making it difficult to get to know them deeply. Others are open and ready to share themselves with others. Perhaps some are even like weeds, appearing when they are not welcome!
Here are some photos of the flowers I found in my yard today.
I thought about what flowers need to grow and blossom. They need water and sunlight, and soil. But not all flowers are the same. Some need hours of sunlight every day to grow and flourish. Others prefer the shade and just wilt in the sun. All flowers need water, but some, like those that grow in the desert, need only a little, surviving for lengthy periods of drought and producing their blossoms instantly when the rain comes.
Actually, I have a strange succulent in my yard that showed up by chance when I bought some plants from our local garden center. This one was unhappy until I planted it in a location with full sun and didn’t water it. This summer was extremely hot with a lot of sunshine and I saw that it was growing well. Then we had a big rainstorm and right after that I saw that it had produced a flower, a surprisingly big flower! Now I understand that plant better and hopefully it will continue to flower for many years.
Flowers need to be planted in the right kind of soil. Some like damp, rich soil while others like drier, sandy soil. Also, some like the soil to be acidic while others like it to be alkaline. Interestingly, some flowers appear different depending on the level of acidity of the soil. For example, hydrangeas change color, appearing blue in acidic soil, and pink or red in alkaline soil; and they can appear purple in soil with a neutral pH value of between 6 and 7.
So, if flowers need water and sunlight and soil to provide nutrients for growth, what do people need? Well, people need food for their physical body of course. But beyond that they also need food for their mind and heart and soul. Like the flowers, some thrive and blossom when they receive intellectual stimulation while others wilt and struggle. Some people enjoy solitude while others need to be around people in order to feel energized. All people need to receive food for their spirit: the loving care of a parental figure; support, challenge, and appreciation from siblings and peers; guidance from elders; and the true love of a spouse, a partner they can trust to give nourishment to their innermost self. Finally, to develop our own parental heart, we have children and continue our lineage.
Unlike the flower, however, which is at the mercy of its environment, unable to control the amount of sunlight or rain it receives, or the quality of the soil in which it is growing, human beings have the ability to make changes in their life. If someone is not receiving adequate intellectual stimulation, they can study books, attend classes, join a group with the same interest, apply for a job that is more challenging, etc. Similarly, if someone is lonely, they can choose to socialize more by joining a social group, volunteering with a charitable organization, making friends at work or in their community, and so on. And, if their environment is not conducive to any of these changes, fundamentally not providing the nourishment they need, they can move.
In the case of the flower, they may be lucky enough to have a gardener who moves the plant to a new location, changing the amount of sunlight or water, or the quality of the soil. Perhaps they choose to move it to a location that provides exactly what the flower needs. However, some plants do not survive being transplanted. I found this out when I tried to move some nasturtiums that I had planted in a bad location. Even though I was careful to get a good ball of soil surrounding their roots, the plants just shriveled and died without producing any flowers.
Similarly, some people just don’t like to move! They feel secure in the location in which they grew up, or at least moved to when they were a young adult, and are happy to stay there for the rest of their life. In fact, they thrive there. Others seem to need to move every few years. Maybe they are like the crops a farmer grows that use up all of a particular nutrient in the soil and can no longer receive what they need in that location if they continue to grow there.
So, now I am wondering, what kind of flower does my friend resemble? What does she need to grow and blossom into her full potential?