Dear Columbine Family,
There is risk in staying the same. There is risk in growing. Both have consequences. This is true for individual persons, relationships, and organizations. One of my favorite sayings goes like this:
“…and then the day came
when the risk to remain tight,
in a bud,
became more painful
than the risk it took to blossom…”
(Just FYI – this short poem has often been attributed to 20th Century bohemian writer, Anais Nin, but has since been correctly attributed to Elizabeth Appell, who wrote it in 1979 as a marketing tagline for John F Kennedy University in Orinda, CA)
To me this sums up what it takes to grow — that staying tightly wrapped up in “a bud” (in other words, remaining safely in one’s known sphere) becomes more painful than popping out into one’s full, showy aliveness.
In business acumen, this phenomenon is called “perturbation.” In other words, some limit we keep bumping up against literally irritates us enough to cause a desire for growth. There must be enough of something poking at us that we are motivated to expand — so much discomfort at staying “tight in a bud” that we begin to look for ways to “blossom.”
When have you felt this perturbation in your life? What was the thing that finally caused you to step out into the unknown? Do you feel that you have blossomed yet, or that your life has blossomed yet? Do you feel that our congregation’s life has fully blossomed?
To me, a bud is like a child. A new born. It is not ready to bloom yet. But, at some point, it either blooms or dies. What are the factors that cause a bud to blossom? Here are some answers according to http://www.gardenguides.com:
“In general, it is the need to reproduce that causes a flower to bloom. How that process is triggered differs from specie to specie. Flower buds form in reaction to different occurrences. The plant may be mature enough to put the energy required into flower and seed formation. The plant senses a coming winter in response to lengthening night periods. The plant experiences a cold period which stimulates growth toward maturity. The plant senses the coming of spring by the shortening night periods. In some cases, the plant senses it will die and only then flowers and produces seed…”
Whether it is the impending winter, a cold snap, shorter nights, or a sense that it will die if it does not mature — the plant is almost pushed to flower by these forces of nature that disturb and excite it enough to grow. It seems that nature has this built-in need or impulse to create, to reproduce, to make more beautiful its life. We are part and parcel of a natural world that is constructed this way. Hence, we too, have an underlying impulse to grow and mature.
So what then is the aversion to growth and change? And where does that come from?
First, it can be human anxiety that is associated with possible poor outcomes. We ask ourselves, “What if it doesn’t work out?” We can also become afraid, maybe of being betrayed. But, writer C.S. Lewis chants about the consequences of not risking:
“Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to keep it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable.”
The consequence of not growing is the pain of a locked up heart, mind, soul, and body.
Secondly, growth may not happen because the conditions may not be quite exactly right. In Marge Piercy’s poem, The Seven of Pentacles, she describes what it takes for growth to occur:
“If you tend them properly, if you mulch, if you water,
if you provide birds that eat insects a home and winter food,
if the sun shines and you pick off caterpillars,
if the praying mantis comes and the ladybugs and the bees,
then the plants flourish, but at their own internal clock.”
Piercy says that growth may or may not happen EVEN if we do everything right. There is so much to admit we don’t have control over. Yet, she tells us we must do the things that foster the conditions for growth anyway — in faith — because there will be growth happening that we cannot see…because growth will eventually happen…because growth is the nature of life. Eventually, the harvest comes. In the end, because of the leap to faith that is taken, we are able to beautifully build some of the life we have dreamt of creating.
And, so we will. We will stay the course. We will lift up what we value. We will put energy into boldly building our community of love and justice making. We will “reproduce.” We will flower. We will blossom — because the pain of remaining tightly wound up in a bud is a more profound (and different kind of) pain, than the pain it takes to blossom.
Please join me and Columbine Leaders at the Cottage Meeting after the worship service on March 19th to gain more information about how we are growing and changing by experimenting with a second worship service on Sunday mornings from mid-April through mid-June.
So may we bloom, my friends, as individuals and as a community ~