Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Get Out the Pruning Shears

I’ve mentioned the book Simple Abundance several times during these blog entries. It’s a daybook with a short piece for each day of the year – a great way to start or end each day for me. My mom was recently visiting and I had left it out for her to read. She was particularly struck by one entry (the June 29th one if you’re interested). I should note (or remind) that since last year my mother suffered the sudden death of her husband of 42 years, and just a month later her mother passed. And out of all that emerged a woman whose strength, perspective, and ability to find joy continues to astound me.

The entry that reached her so deeply talked about “life accidents”, those things that happen and that seem so unfair, so unexpected, and that you threaten never to recover from. Illness, loss, and any number of other things fall into this category. In this case, however, Sarah Ban Breathnach equated these “life accidents” to pruning a garden. You cut back seemingly healthy parts of a plant to ensure greater blooms and a stronger plant overall. You either prune it yourself, or nature takes care of it through weather or other means. In this case, she spoke to how painful events are a way that we prune away parts of life that need to go. That the painful events help us grow in a way that joy never can.

As my mother says, the last year has taught her not to sweat the small stuff, and she has definitely come out with a renewed perspective on love, tolerance, and compassion. But she wishes that it didn’t take my dad’s death for her to learn all that she has, and to become a better person. I think as we both read over Breathnach’s words, it really helped us put words and a great description around the feelings we’ve all had. This year had a lot of pain in it. But we’ve all come out better, stronger, and I think more loving and beautiful on the other side. I know I’ve written about this before, but I had to share the imagery around pruning ourselves back in order to make us stronger and healthier. I have a feeling it will resonate beyond just mom and I.

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