Grow where you’re planted

It finally feels like spring in New England and that means planting season. My local Lowe’s and Home Depot reaped the benefits during an unusual warm spell recently.

I decided to pot two evergreen trees in containers at my front door with flowers bordering them. I almost didn’t buy the trees because the tag said, “Grows up to 8 feet tall.” But a container garden book claimed they grow “to fit”–that is, only as big as their surroundings allow. So an 8 foot mature tree can remain 3 feet for years in a pot. (That’s probably very obvious to you gardeners out there, but I confess I’m a novice at this.)

This got me thinking about another topic I’m interested in–personal and spiritual growth. Do I plant my thoughts in small containers, limiting their growth, or do I give them expansive space and good soil to grow to their full potential?

When I review my list of spiritual “to-do’s” I think about practicing the power and potential of love and kindness in my life. Do I share love in a BIG way every day or do I limit it and “containerize” it?

I’ve decided I want love to be a habit in my life. I want it to be my first response–over anger, disappointment, frustration. I want it to have a lot of room to grow and spread itself, rather than sticking it in a small space for special occasions. Believe me, with a family of five I have a lot of opportunities to practice this! But over this past year, I think I’ve seen my “love habit” grow.

There are obvious health implications to responding with love over anger–among them, lower stress. There are studies that have shown people who have less control over angry emotions tended to heal more slowly from wounds. Harvard School of Public Health studied hostility in men and found that “those with higher rates of hostility not only had poorer pulmonary functioning (breathing problems), but experienced higher rates of decline as they aged.” (Effects of Poorly Managed Anger).

David Hamilton–author of “How Your Mind Can Heal Your Body” and “Why Kindness is Good for You”–lists 5 beneficial side-effects of expressing kindness in his Huffington Post blog. Expressing kindness: Makes us happier, Gives us healthy hearts, Slows aging, Makes for better relationships, and It’s contagious.

Of course, if we are kind simply to reap the benefits, that’s hardly a good motivation. Kindness comes from selflessness and from a commitment to being loving, even to those we may feel are unlovable or in circumstances where it seems impossible to dole out even the tiniest dose of love. That’s where the work comes in, but I’ve found that as I’ve committed myself to the habit of kindness in my interactions, it gets easier.

 

Comments

  1. Clark says

    This thought has helped me so much as I’ve been praying for my children, and as I’ve been thinking about what experiences to introduce into their lives, even what expectations to have for them. I’ve decided that my spiritual thought should be so open that it can’t fit into a pot.

    Sometimes this may be a bit intimidating though, so I decided that I should be willing to re-pot myself. If one day I can only manage a pot a little bigger than the last, then that’s what I’m going to commit to. But each time I should expect to re-pot into a bigger and larger pot, but take it step at a time.

    On a practical note, I’ve decided to actually re-pot a plant in my house – to allow it to grow to it’s potential height.

    • Ingrid Peschke says

      I love how you drew connections to your parenting, Clementine. Great ideas! One step at a time is often what’s best…but always expecting continued growth. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Virginia McCullough says

    Thanks for this blog and all the comments. What a good question, Sue : “Is this really the way I want to respond? Isn’t God already overseeing this person’s actions and thoughts and helping them to grow?” — very timely thought for me. I laughed out loud when I saw Ingrid’s “thinking outside the pot”

  3. Kevin says

    I love the idea that kindliness can be contagious. What good that can inflict folks with! What if we were all infected with peace and harmony. That idea sure feeds my thought seeds!

  4. Ingrid Peschke says

    Appreciate all the comments! Everyone certainly is thinking “outside of the pot”! :)

  5. Sharla Allard says

    One’s love growing from friends and family to acquaintances and strangers is a wonderful thing. I find myself treating shop people and checkout workers more like friends now. And I’m hoping I don’t unwittingly follow bad examples–like on reality TV shows, where blowing a fuse or wreaking revenge seem to be normal and legitimate activities!

  6. says

    Love this blog! Kendra’s thought made me think of what author, Mary Baker Eddy wrote about the topic of love, “Love is not something put upon a shelf, to be taken down on rare occasions with sugar tongs and laid on a rose-leaf.” Love is meant to be active and used and this blog is a great reminder to be using it in broad ways. Thanks Ingrid!

    PS: I love your pots too!

  7. Wanda says

    I really like the ideas you are sharing in this post. My daughter is a Correctional Officer and sees people everyday who are in desperate need of love. When we talk about the stress she feels I try to help her see these people in a different light. They all may deserve to be in jail, but beneath the surface I think many of them need to feel the compassion that love can bring.

  8. says

    I love the idea of making our foundation for spiritual growth a large space! What bigger area could we use for this planting than the whole world.

    The idea of responding to individual-, family-, school-, community-, country-, and world-wide problems with compassion, prayer, patience, forgiveness can’t help but grow into a larger sense of goodness.

    When I’m starting to get angry, I have found it’s really helpful to ask myself, “Is this really the way I want to respond? Isn’t God already overseeing this person’s actions and thoughts and helping them to grow?” Would anger really do a better job than love at changing this situation?”

    Of course, the better way is to respond to every situation, as Ingrid says, is with kindness that comes from selflessness and a commitment to being loving. This way we set an example, and sometimes the standard, for expressing God’s goodness.