When I met the birth of winter by uprooting myself and my loved ones, the plants were the first to make the move. The new place had more space, you see, and also a converted porch which we affectionately called the Conservatory. Golden summer filled the room as the morning sun rose — and fled back to frost when the sun’s gaze turned elsewhere. But it was sun. And it was space.
The plants had bravely weathered their time in our tiny cabin, holding back their growth and decay for a day when they were not cloaked in shadow and ash, stuck in a perpetual moment of reaching for a light they could not see. I wondered, sometimes, where they found the faith in renewed light. What kept them green when there were no rays to capture?
In the new home, I spent careful hours wiping woodsmoke off the jade’s fleshy leaves, watching as the soil began to take up water again. And then, one day like all the others: buds.
I have yet to find anything that compares to the joy of a new flush of growth on one of my plants — except, perhaps, a new flush of growth within myself. Unlooked for, often unexpected, the environment we find ourselves in has changed. And suddenly, life is not only possible but unavoidable. Old leaves are dropped. New ones burst forth from every seam on the jade’s sturdy arms. Baby leaves wait their turn, impatiently crowded in the birth canal of time.
I feel my own leaves rushing to unfurl, eager to move after a pent-up eternity. We each have contexts in which we flourish, and contexts in which we wither away. Like the plant who seems healthy but offers no growth, it is often hard to tell if we are flourishing or not.
Change offers a chance for new growth, whether we choose it or simply find ourselves within it. (Here’s a hint: you can always choose the change.) Change is the catalyst, the before and after, the contrast of desires. Plants need water and air and light. What do you need? And how will you move toward it?
The move into this house gave me more space, into which has grown my contemplation, creativity, and ambition. I breathe more deeply. I actually enjoy cooking again. But these are just the first leaf tips. As our first truly shared space, my partner and I have been contesting over fertile soil. We have argued about dishes, the truth of sexism, and whether independence or illness takes precedence.
In changing the walls we inhabit, we change also the emotional space we inhabit. We begin to move around each other differently; we begin to move inside ourselves differently.
When we listen deeply during conflict, new pathways begin to bud. In persistently turning our faces to the bright rays of love, old fears and pettiness fall away. New ways of connecting cluster at the seams, eager to explode into the light.
It is one thing to change the words you use or the food you eat. It is quite another to change at the level of Being.
These moments are unexpected doors. We are waiting for the bus and the sun touches our hand just so… and inside of us the withered leaf of resentment drops away, our heart opens, and we find that we are ready to forgive.
True growth, true flourishing, stems from a golden summer of the soul. From patiently holding your vitality when the world is dark around you, holding faith that the seasons will change again. Invite the morning sun in slow increments of change, a continual turning toward something brighter and more spacious, with a deep well at which your roots can drink.
The whole material world dances to the song of the spirit. Open yourself to be moved.