A few things I’ve learned about growth

For the past few weeks, while dogging the rain, I have trekked into the mud of my flower beds waiting to see all if all of my long lost plant friends have returned for the year. You don’t realize how much you miss the flowers until you are in the heart of a cold winter. Everything is dreary and dull. Sometimes you just need a little color to change your perspective. But the reality is that no matter how pretty the flowers are, they only last for a season. Growth comes quick and brilliant and life is great for that season and then growth dies down and things span their time and the pruning season starts all over. Of all the things I’ve learned about growth the most important things I’ve learned is that you never stay in the same season forever. You also never experience the same season twice. Sure patterns of growth in your life might feel familiar as you trudge down some of those familiar roads, but each growth pain is experienced differently. At the end of this past fall I found myself sitting on the front porch frustrated about my inability to prune the dead foliage from my rose bushes. I was fresh off the diagnosis of a pulled MCL in my left knee and taking each day slow to regain strength and mobility. A lot of that included me sitting on the front porch, watching the sun rise or set, and thinking about all of the things I needed to be doing in my flower bed. One afternoon I braved the steps with my kneed brace pulled tight and my loppers in my hand and proceeded to cut back my knock-out roses. I stand at just over five feet tall. The roses along the driveway came to my chest and the ones near my carport were way over my head. I had heard people tell me that I needed to cut them back each year so they wouldn’t over grow, but to me cutting them back meant I would take a chance on them never returning. What if I cut them too much? What if I cut them at the wrong time? What if I wasn’t meant to cut them at all? For some reason on this late October day, mixed emotions filling up inside of me about a million different things that had happened to me over the past year, I decided I would trim the roses. By the time the sun set I had wheeled all of the cuttings to the side of the road. The rose bushes stood two feet from the ground, maybe even less. Bare. Exposed. All the foliage gone. I spent the rest of winter observing the bushes in the cold, wondering if they would come back to life. Then the rain came in droves over the past month and I just knew they would freeze from the cold water setting on them in the North Alabama night. Then the other day I woke up to sunshine and warmth and one evening after work I realized that all the pretty red foliage on my knock out roses, the foliage that reminds me new spouts are getting ready to grow and pink and red flowers will soon cover them, was back. I’ve fretted for the past six months that my roses wouldn’t return. Long before that I’ve fretted for the past year that bits and pieces of myself wouldn’t return. That I wouldn’t find myself happy again or at peace with the things the universe throws in my direction. When you cut things out of your life and do a hard pruning of the things you think you need you experience a season that is bare, exposed and down right ugly. But something great happens at the end of that season because a newness emerges and suddenly you are blooming in a whole new light.

Things are looking up and for that season of life you are growing once again, until the pruning returns. But the pruning is necessary for good growth. Without it we over grow, like my roses, we burnout in the things we enjoy. We lose our happiness. When I stopped focusing on just the roses and took a larger glance at all of my flower beds, I’ve realized all of my favorite perennials — hostas, ferns, day lilies, irises, daffodils, Japanese maples, even the blooms on my white Japanese cherry trees — have begun their slow return to the sun. Things bloom in their own time and this time of year I look forward to see just how colorful everything can be.