Gratitude – Lessons From My Rhodo

May 31, 2015 Gratitude


Every season offers little things to be grateful for.  To be happy, you have to learn to watch for them.

I was woken up the other morning to the sound of coyote pups learning to use their voices. Before long they will be able to sing with their parents. Just as Heidi and I are awaiting the birth of our great granddaughter, It is the season for re-birth and family ties.

The crows have been dive bombing anyone who comes too close to their nests. The lesson they exhibit is of defending what is precious, of not being afraid to tackle threats that might be bigger than they are.

The air is full of fluff from the aptly named cottonwood trees. I find it marvellous to watch. We cannot see the air but the floating little bits of white define it for us as they catch every breeze – sometimes sauntering lazily along, and at others, suddenly being caught up in an updraft. There are unseen energies around us that influence the direction we take in life.

The salmon-berries are just beginning their season and will be followed in turn by the other wild berries. Each takes its turn reminding us to be patient, that everything happens when it is supposed to.

I spent some time today visiting my favourite rhododendron which is now in full bloom. It is about two meters tall (6 1/2 feet for my American friends) and just as wide. This rhodo and I have a history. Heidi and I moved to our current home about twelve years ago and brought quite a number of our shrubs and flowers with us. We gave the rhodo a choice spot where it could be appreciated.

In spite of its location, it did not look happy. In its former home, its roots were in pool soil and its branches had been deformed by its proximity to a number of obstructions. It looked as out of place as men at a baby shower. (Let it go, Haddy! Let it go!) During the first winter we took drastic measures and pruned it way back. We would have to wait and see whether it would survive or it would flourish.

Flourish it did. What is the connection with me, you ask? (You meant to ask, didn’t you?)

I experienced the same thing in my life. Struggling with polio and losing my mother at an early age, my roots were also in poor soil. I was blocked from getting much sunlight, and, just like my rhodo, many obstacles and challenges shaped the path I took – resentments, violence, alcohol, regrets.

There came a time in my life when I needed to be transplanted to a better place. That alone was not enough. Like my flowering friend, there were many attitudes and ways of doing things that needed to be identified and pruned away.

  1. From my military background, I maintained the discipline while shedding the rigid thinking;
  2. from my early home life, I accepted the extra responsibilities while releasing the “why me” victim thinking; and,
  3. from my new location in the sunshine, I grew my skills in self-esteem and focused on how to communicate more effectively.

I put down fresh roots in new soil. I learned a way of seeing the world in a different light. Having come from the dark place I had known, I came to love life all the more.

Yes, I flourished and blossomed as well.

  • I am not suggesting that it is easy to make these drastic changes in your life, but it is possible.
  • It is not a simple thing to discard the ideas and methods you once lived with to adopt a totally different path, but that option is available to you.
  • If you accept that your life has a purpose and you have the right to be happy, you have what it takes to make that a reality.

I did all those things – but not alone. I had to reach out to others for help  and I had to rely on the guidance of a Master Gardener.

Keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps the singing bird will come.–Chinese Proverb

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