Enjoying my morning coffee, I look over at four tomato plants growing in my window sill. They were babies marked on clearance, leaves straggly, poorly tended, sitting outside in cold maritime wind. Now they stand in deep pots, roots touching rich soil, fertilized, watered, ready to grow. They haven’t been able to expend energy on growth thus far. They’ve been mostly just trying to survive.
I work with human beings who have been treated this way. Just trying to survive. They usually come with many problems. Abused as children, now they carry grief’s burden of becoming aware that they have abused their own. Like these tomato plants, they have been put out in conditions that force constant vigilance for survival. For them, any small growth that they have accrued is bonus.
There is no point in wasting time judging what they “ought” to be. They are what anyone would be, given such conditions. Often, I marvel that they have done as well as they have.
And then we help them. I often liken my job to that of a midwife. I help them birth themselves. We get them a larger container, fill it with rich soil, the right fertilizing agents, ample water, warm sun, and then they do the rest. They do what humans do when given the opportunity. The same thing that tomato plants do.
Grow. Become. Expand. Bear fruit. Reach down deep into the rich soil and stretch up high into the heavens.
This is one of my primary tasks as a parent, too. I work provide the best conditions I can for optimum and sustainable growth. Not perfect, but best.
Our home is not conventional according to current American standards, with it’s three parents and ten kids, but it is it’s own happy community unto itself, and if there is one thing we do well, it’s having organically-produced fun.
The energy is good here, and when it’s not so great, we work to get it back to where we want it. Light. Playful. Laughing. A wild sort of contained chaos. We are raising growing green vibrant things with plenty of dirt and sun.
My partner announced yesterday that she is going to feng shui her closet. It sounds fun so I’m going to try it too. Environment matters. We are each responsible to do what is in our power to provide ourselves with the kind of environment we need to grow, whether it’s closets or bigger stuff.
I had no plans to divorce when I married my first husband, but as the metaphorical blood-letting reached threatening proportions, I realized that living with him was steadily killing me. I worked so hard to change, to find a way to make our marriage work, especially for the sake of the children we shared, but there was a point when reality finally reached through my rose-colored glasses.
Like the tomato plants I just rescued from the bargain bin, I finally accepted that living with him meant living with a small pot of root-bound dirt, strong wind and cold temperatures, even if what I needed was warm sun and good soil. It wasn’t fair to him to work hard to change what simply was…though I spent years trying anyway. My theological world said that was my only option, since divorce was off the table.
He could not be what he was not, and no matter how I tried, those were the facts. What to do with those facts was all up to me. They said something was horribly wrong with me if I chose the sinful path of divorce. I looked my theological world up and down and decided something was horribly wrong with theological world that told me I did not have the power to choose what environment I would grow in.
Now I sit in rich soil and stretch my leafy branches up to the sun-drenched heavens, the heady scent of tomato plant leaves filling the air.
I’m not all that sure if a feng-shui-ed closet matters that much in the grand scheme of things, but the idea behind it is sound. Environment matters. Put a bird in a small cage and see how often it flies. Put a tomato plant out in cold wind and see how well it thrives. Put a human being in a home filled with violence and verbal abuse and see how it matters.
We wield such power, those of us who have it, this power to shape and build our own environments. We wield such power over others who are not yet able to or do not know that they can. Is this magic? I think it is. We are all weavers, each one of us, only some of us don’t know it, still sleeping in the dream. Sometimes I think those with the magic are simply those who are awake.