water water everywhere


The hanging double-rose begonia that my son gifted to me for mother’s day, almost seven full months ago, still blooms. Catching my eye often as I walk past her on the way to and from the back door of our cottage – on my way out to the post office or an evening stroll, or in from the car after running farther errands- she delights me.

The thing is, she just keeps blooming. For seven months now, without pause, she has bloomed. For the most part, other than this delightful, subtle noticing of her, I’ve paid her little attention, no fussing over her, no watering, feeding, pinching or pruning. I’ve just let her go on blooming.

Perhaps she is the right plant for the right place and that makes her so prolifically hardy. Sure, we’ve had a mild summer with nicely spaced rain, and she’s hanging in a place where she gets dappled sunlight from time to time, but she makes me wonder, nonetheless.

This parallels my wondering on the ridge a few weeks ago, when noting the different quality of being-with that I experienced there, a being-with that was not about managing, fixing, saving, reacting, planning, planting, doing-for, altering, weeding, restoring or even tending. That particular place was too big for me to affect change, too big for me to take on as a project. It puzzled me to realize that feeling small and powerless eased me into a letting-go place of deep empathy, communion and love – a love that did not ‘feel sorry for’ or ‘guilty over’, did not rage or move me to act; an empathy that understood that I was a reciprocal part of this too; a communion that knew I was one-with the wounding and with the rebounding beauty.  There was something mutually healing there for me in the bearing witness and being-with that was not about power in any way – neither power to act (in a power-over way) nor to give ( in an empowering way). Here there was simply an autumnal letting-go entrustment.

But this potted plant is small. Here, surely I could have been more attentive, could have checked on her, but I didn’t. Still, she blooms. Does she bloom because I love her, or do I love her because she blooms? Perhaps she simply blooms because that is what she does.

I purchased several other like her, placed them here and there on the patio and the porch, but none has thrived the way she has. I suppose one truly can’t force a blossom…

What is love exactly? So often I hear that it is a verb, an action not a feeling. Honestly though, most of my attempts at active loving become so distorted by my desires and hopes (or conversely by my fears and anxieties), my small-minded perspective of what is best for a thing, my desires to make another be/feel/see/experience his/her beauty, or my attempt to heal (fix) their pain. I think perhaps I confuse love with help, and in that ‘helping’ I give too much water (drowning) or not enough (I can never be enough). Where do I force rather than trusting the unfolding?

How often is the beauty, which I long for my beloved to experience, beauty-according-to-me? How often is my action-love inspired by fear of loss or rejection, by some need in me, or by my longing for connection? Is this kind of action-love not really more about me than the other, then? How might a loving response to the pain (or the joy) of another behave differently?

Could it be that love is more about being-with? Noticing, bearing witness, wordlessly even (because as soon as I insert words into the space between us they become manipulative somehow), delighting in the wonder and the beauty and the mystery of another, in their pain and wounded-ness too. Let their blossoming be theirs to name and claim, not mine. Too often it seems that giving love becomes more about projecting desire. Could love be more about simply, appreciably receiving the other- as I do when I walk past that double rose begonia or sit in awe of the unfolding regenerative life-force in the meadow and the ridge- trusting/honoring something beyond me, and within the other.

I’d like to believe that love between two human beings can be this way, between mother and son, husband and wife, friend and friend, that my fussing and my fears are unwarranted, that there is something innate and organic about it beyond my need to control. I want to trust in the shared presence to life with the other that does not require hypervigilance,  but is about bearing loving witness to the unfolding, that there is an organic, way of being-with another that naturally results in healing, and in blossom. I want to trust that love like this is inherent and blooms naturally of its own accord.

Still, I wonder, how does love give a drink to a thing when one sees that it is wilting? How much, how often, more basically,how? How to give a drink, and then step back and let the blossom come in its own time and its own way, not according to my desire or my  image of beauty, but according to the image embedded within its very being, the image that has been its destiny since it was contained in the seed, the image that it alone knows how to express.

How to trust that, honor that, bear loving witness to that.

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