About a thousand years ago, I had a postcard blu-tacked to the door of my study in the tiny flat my ex and I shared. It was a postcard which followed me through three or four moves to three or four different houses, and I don’t remember whatever happened to it, but I’m sad that I lost it.
The postcard was red, and it had a drawing of a man standing over a tiny but brave pot-plant, glaring down at it. The caption to the postcard was “Grow. Now.”
I kept the postcard for so many years because the absurdity of it appealed to my sense of humour, but looking back at it I see why it so strongly resonated, humour aside: I’m the plant, and I’m the guy.
I was chatting recently with my spiritual director, who is one of the wisest people I’ve ever met. We were talking about my struggle with prayer – how every part of me wants that time and space to simply Be within the Sacred, to allow the recitation of prayer to draw me deeper into the Spirit which dwells so deeply within me – and how I find it so utterly difficult, to the extent that at times I recoil from it. I understand the barrier – fear – but I can’t get through it. I want to, but I can’t, and I grieve about that even as I seek to hold myself in compassion.
Chatting with her, I was reminded forcibly of the man standing over the plant, ordering it to “Grow. Now.” Silly man – the plant will grow, whether he wills it or not, because that’s what plants do. That’s the nature of their very being – they take what nourishment they are given and they grow. Giving the poor old plant an imposed directive will serve only to infuriate the man, while the plant grows quietly, patiently, in its own time.
The man has to trust that the plant will grow, and I have to trust that I will grow. That my soul’s yearning for for light and growth is the same as that of the little plant: it’s my soul’s way of being to grow towards its Source. My actions can nourish or hinder it – but I can’t force it. I can’t order it, I can’t impose my perfectionism and my impatience on the process. I have to let it be.
I do miss that postcard though. It was a cool postcard.