Friday, September 2, 2011


Recently I had to divide and repot my peace lily; it was root-bound.  I got the pots and finally psyched myself up to dividing the root ball into four relatively equal sections, each with its own equivalent section of the plant. 

I knew it would be messy.  I knew that I would most likely lose some of the plant to trauma.  But I knew it was necessary.  

Once the deed was done, I watered the sections thoroughly, each in its own pot, and set myself to watching how the leaves reacted.  Within a day I knew which parts of the plant had 'taken' to the new environment and which hadn't. However, I gave them another day to be sure; after all, I could have been mistaken. In a few rare cases I was - but after that, it became evident from the wilting leaves (while others beside them were not wilting) that there were some portions that were just not salvageable.  And so the scissors came out.  I began to carefully snip the leaves, one by one, at the place where the stems had bent over almost double. 

Snip.  Snip.  As I did, the stems bounced back, and the remainder of the plant took on a much more healthy look overall.  

This evening, I noticed that the spider plant in the dining room window, which until a few weeks ago had nearly a dozen "babies" - had nurtured them for such a long time that it was badly depleted of energy.  Brown leaves were almost as numerous as the green ones.  Tomorrow, in the light of day, I'll be trimming those leaves and allowing the good of the roots to go to the healthy portions of the plant.  It might be a lot smaller when I'm done, but it will be healthier.  

So - I turned my attention to the one above the kitchen sink.  It too had a few babies ... and they were fairly large.  But they'd not yet depleted the mother plant.  So I reached up and pulled the largest baby down to me.  The other babies were attached to this one as well.  I reached up to where it was attached to the mother plant, and severed the umbilical cord.  


Immediately, I potted the babies and watered them.  They look wonderful.  Hopeful. Their roots will develop and they will become self-sufficient. The mother will now be able to gain the full benefit of the nutrients coming into it from its own well-established roots.  In time, it will blossom and start to nurture even more little ones.  

As I have been looking after these plants the last few days, I have been unable to stop myself from thinking about how this dividing, separating, wrenching process mirrors my own, teaches me necessary lessons about life, nature, nurturing, letting go, and looking after the self - even if it hurts - in order to be able to have something to give to others.

Source of the photo:
When I first started my own process, it was extremely difficult to learn how to let go of my tight-fisted, white-knuckled grip on life - especially other people's lives.  In the early stages, I actually had to physically step back from people when I caught myself trying to influence, manipulate or control them - put  my hands in the air in an "I surrender" stance and internally let go of the need to control the situation.  This letting go was uncomfortable for me because I was so not used to it.  


But soon I found that I could do it with a bit more ease, that I had a bit more energy than I thought I would have because I wasn't fretting so much about whether others were living their lives "right" or not.  It was no longer my problem.  

Then as I realized that my ability to change myself was non-existent - having tried all my life with the same abysmal results - I made a decision to turn my life over to the care of my Creator.  

Snip.  The deadness started to drop off me. 

I started to see the roots of my self-destructive behavior: past hurts, resentments.  One by one I faced these, worked through the pain I had never allowed myself to feel, and gradually came to a place of forgiveness.

Snip. Snip. Snip.  More deadness fell off.  Every snip took anywhere from days to months, depending on how deep, systematic, or long-lasting the hurt was.

I started to see in myself some patterns of believing and of thinking that had allowed these resentments and self-destructive attitudes to grow.  I developed a growing hatred of these defects of character and asked God to remove them; I had tried to get rid of them on my own but it had never worked.  So I asked Him to do it.  He took me at my word.

Snip.  Less control.  More freedom.  More growth.

In every step I took from that point onward: apologizing to people I had hurt with my own woundedness, maintaining a watchful eye over my reactions to life and to people, deepening my relationship with God, and sharing my story with others - I was empowered more and more by the One from whom I had asked for help.  

And now that God has brought me to the place where (out of a place of fulness) I'm able to help others get a good start on their own recovery, I can remember the lessons learned from my own pruning process to know when it's time to nurture and when it's time to let go (to cut the umbilical cord, so to speak) and watch in wonder as the legacy of healing passes from person to person, one person at a time, one day at a time.

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