We human beings are like plants. We need to be cared for in order to grow and thrive. It’s not always a perfect formula. In general though, we need to be watered, fed, and sometimes pruned. And just like plants, without enough nourishment, we are not going to make it. And conversely, too much water and food can do us in. Too much pruning will take away the parts that, although ugly, often protect and shelter us.
~ Ben Hamrick
I love my hydrangeas, but by golly, they are some of the most challenging plants in my yard. I’m not sure why as they love partial shade, and I have plenty of that. Typically, I have to go against my nature of letting the plants “just be” and with the hydrangea bushes, I “just care.”
One year, someone gifted me a beautiful blue Nico that I admired with all my heart. If I could be a color, it would be that shade of blue. After nurturing her closely for the summer, I sadly watched her die practically right in front of my eyes. I don’t know what killed her, but there she lingered, brown and shriveled. Out of frustration one day, I got the shears and pruned her back, I mean way, way back, then covered her with oak leaves and hoped she would shoot up in the spring.
Well, she didn’t.
I waited patiently until mid-June and still nothin’.
Finally, I decided to move away all the leaves and just let Nature take her course. And of course, she did.
Not that year, but the next, up came the Nico. I could not have been more overjoyed. In spite of the “care” I had offered, what she had really needed was time to work through it. She had to find what fed her body and spirit and draw it in. She needed to heal from all the clips and cuts I’d made to her branches.
Sometimes in our lives when we experience sadness, pain, or challenge, people (and even our own selves) expect us to get through it or get over it. We are expected to shed the dead leaves and trim away the hurt because we are supposed to be “ok.”
What I’ve learned from that Nico hydrangea is this–our spirits were created to adapt and heal, but only if we give them the time they need to do so. Honoring the pain and working through it is part of the journey–providing us with the opportunity we need to be sheltered and protected so we can heal and grieve.
Autumn arrived that year, and I marveled at my sweet Nico bush. She’d spent a summer growing fresh flowers for the kitchen table and big blooms for dried arrangements. As I tucked her in for her long winter’s nap, I was mindful about how I prepared her for the season ahead. I wanted to leave her with what she needed to be restored and whole again next summer.