The Beauty of You

The Beauty of You

Lent 2


I received a comment yesterday about the novelty of “growing ourselves”.  That is the theme of our series for Lent 2016 and while the comment was favorable (Thank you for that!), I also found it troubling.  In preparation for this series, I had discussed this theme of an internal type of gardening and found others also thought it a novel approach.  It really isn’t and I do not claim any ownership of it.  What was troubling to me, though, was the idea that we do not usually “grow ourselves’.  In truth, we are always growing.  We just sometimes don’t grow better; we sometimes simply stagnate. 


I enjoy the planning process but what I really enjoy is when a plan comes together and then appears to have support.  As I began to develop this series and received those comments which made it seem like an unusual approach, I will confess I had my doubts.  Should I use a different approach?  Am I going to be encouraging selfishness instead of self-fullness?


Then I received an email from the Society of Saint John the Evangelist (SSJE), a monastic order within the Episcopal Church.  I receive daily emails from them and they are a part of my daily meditations.  I am often amused and always blessed by their offerings.  When I am impatiently waiting for something or someone, they always seem to send me one about patience.  Their timeliness is almost spot on and, I will admit, I do sometimes wonder if they’ve been peeking at my life because their topics are so applicable.  On the last day of Epiphany, while I wrestled with my own doubts about this series, I received the SSJE email about their upcoming Lenten series.  Halleujah!  They will be discussing “Growing a Rule of Life”.  Maybe I was on track after all.


If we think about our life as a garden, especially our personage, then we can assume a sense of control that we often seem to lose in our daily living.  This doesn’t mean you will suddenly become king or queen of the world and have the ability to control things or people.  The gardener can only do so much and then must accept whatever nature provides.  We can plan and prepare but in the final analysis, we also must live within what life provides.


Oscar Wilde once said “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”  We often look for meaning of life and our purpose in exotic, extravagant, external environs.  We really should just look in the mirror.  None of us is perfect and none of us is a supreme being.  Most of us are just ordinary, average people, and there is nothing wrong with that.  To honor you own uniqueness does not equate with being egotistical or selfish.  It does mean living according to your faith and celebrating your life rather than wanting the perceived life of someone else.


Two years ago I tried my hand at a different type of vegetable garden.  I will be the first to admit I have no houseplants.  I blame it on my two love-to-eat-anything felines and highly-nose-sensitive canine but the truth is I do not have a talent for growing houseplants.  Throughout time, friends have given me plants and I’ve tried my hand at having my own favorites, African violets especially.  I can create things with my hands, write things using my hands, play various musical instruments with my hands, and even wear jewelry rather attractively on my hands; I do not have a green thumb…or green any other finger.  In short, my skills as a gardener are very limited and the results are always the same.  I end up with dead plants that are useful only for a compost help.


Two years ago, though, I found an article about container gardening and decided to give it a try.  These containers were not pretty little pots, however.  They were plastic tubs and bags of potting and gardening soil.  The title of the article pretty much said it all:  Lazy Gardening.  It caught my eye and I gave it a try.  I placed bags of soil in plastic tubs usually used for storing clothes and decorations.  After several days, I placed plants in the bags through slits.  Several bags I placed in small garbage cans uprights and potted tomato plants in those.  It was not the most attractive garden as gardens go and I’m sure my neighbors who could see into my backyards thought me a bit silly or odd.


We had a sudden frost late in the spring that year and so I placed plastic garbage bags over the tubs in my garden.  While gardeners all over the area laments at the loss of their young plants and the need to start over, I removed my bags on my tubs to discover happy, thriving plants.  We ate vegetables from my small garden for almost seven months.  The tomatoes were lovely and the hardest thing about the whole thing was staking those plants that needed support, hard meaning it took an extra five minutes.  I had placed my garden tubs on a board balanced through the bars of an old swing set and then covered it with a mesh to keep the squirrels and birds from eating the young plants.  As I said, it looked unusual but the food tasted great.


Sometimes we need to take a different approach to help ourselves grow.  Not every plant in my “lazy garden” grew at the same rate but then, I did plant different types of vegetables.  We are all unique, different in our own way.  Often society makes us feel like we should apologize for that.  In truth, we should celebrate it.  A glass of milk and a stalk of broccoli both contain essential calcium.  They are very different and neither should apologize for that.  We need to realize that we each have needs and those needs should be meant according to ourselves, not some popular trend.  Celebrate you and grow into your potential.  You are, after all, the only who can be you.


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