A picture that has imprinted itself in my mind quite often lately is that of a well overflowing. The water causes flowers to bloom all around the well, bringing new life and beauty to ground that was once barren.
Consider the paradox of how brokenness helps us bloom. I think our feelings are like that. Emotions—particularly the hard ones like anger, sadness and hurt—often help to unearth our core wounds and start the healing process.
A therapist once told me to picture my soul like a garden and then imagine the different states of being my soul-garden might experience. At that time, I sketched a picture of a garden with four quadrants: the first was a completely barren wasteland; in each subsequent quadrant, there was more growth and lushness as my garden received nourishment from the sun, water, air and my loving care.
When I’m going through a rough patch in my life of one kind or another, it helps me to remember the garden analogy and consider how I am helping myself bloom and grow. Though I always want to be tending my garden well, it is especially necessary when I’m feeling broken or hurt. This starts by accepting exactly where I am, right in that moment. Even if my emotions are messy, conflicting and painful, I’ve learned that this, too, is okay and even necessary. Marvelous growth can come from frozen, rocky ground, with enough love and patience.
Once I have a degree of acceptance, I slowly rise and get to work once again, nourishing my soul-garden. I know flowers won’t reappear overnight, but I also understand that bringing forth new life takes time—first to heal and then to thrive.
The truth is that we all have wounds. We all have trauma. We all have events from our past that we would rather forget or pretend never happened. Yet, the wounds from those incidents have shaped our story and our very being.
Henri Nouwen, one of my favorite theologians, writes about how our wounds can eventually be used to bring healing to others. By being vulnerable and sharing our own brokenness, we bring others out of their isolation and pain. No longer feeling alone with a problem brings miracles of recovery.
How do you take care of your garden? What nourishes you—makes you want to sing, dance, laugh or cry? Is your soul-garden blooming? Are you becoming whole?