A friend and I headed for Taylor’s Falls and made a stop along the way at Franconia Sculpture Park. http://www.franconia.org/ Winding our way through this gorgeous natural setting, looking at some truly inspiring works of art, we came upon a garden patch… wild, lush and overgrown. I walked in as far as I could and just stood there, taking it all in. When I came out, three young boys, ranging maybe 8-12 years old, ran into the spot where I had just stood. One said, “There’s nothing in here.” To which my friend responded, “Everything is in there.” The boy asked, “What do you mean?” to which I replied, “YOU are in there.” and my friend added, “And that is everything!” The boy, who looked to be the oldest said, “That’s weird.” Another boy just looked at us and the third boy got this amazing far-away look in his eyes. The look lasted only a few seconds, but we both knew he felt it. The whole thing lasted only a few seconds and then they were gone.
We reflected on this experience throughout the day, with the garden as the proverbial metaphor for life. My friend has been struggling with some issues that come up for people of a certain age… In other words, feeling old and used up, but still with plenty of years still in us, so what to do? It’s not the easiest stage in life and my friend is really wondering why he is still working at a job he doesn’t want to do anymore? He’s realizing it’s pretty much just so he can make the payment on his big house, which he doesn’t really need. A house that requires a lot of repair and upkeep, which he thought he was excited about when he made his initial purchase. But now… His dreams are screaming at him! He is over-stressed and so caught up in “shoulding” on himself that he has lost 80 pounds since the last time I saw him, and that was only a few months ago! Seriously. The things we do to ourselves, until we give ourselves permission to think outside the box.
I said, “You know, those 3 little boys are all inside of you.” One is just going along, one is scared to death to be authentic and the third one is open to the exciting things all around him every single day. My friend and I have seldom had deep conversations like this and when we have, he has usually been the older boy who shut it all down with words telling me, “That’s weird,” even when he really needed to talk it through. But it just felt wrong to be vulnerable and say he was scared to be so real and raw and open.
The garden itself was wild and lush and overgrown and there were metal sculpture pieces that came up high above the flowers, creating something of a framework for the whole thing. We talked about those stick-straight, hard metal rods being the “shoulds” in life. The things we have to do – or think we have to do – to fit in or get by in this world. The ways we dump hard and fast expectations all over ourselves. Of course, there are things we actually do have to do in our lives… Obligations… Responsibilities. But sometimes we just get stuck in a rut that tells us we must trudge on, even when the need is long gone. We tend to keep doing what we’ve always done, even when we want to make a change, simply because it’s become a habit and we forget there are other possibilities out there. Or because we’re afraid to make a change and take a risk. I guess that’s why we need our friends and the off-day when we decide to take a drive out into the country.
The sticks, the structure that created such contrast for the massive over-growth of the garden, wasn’t our focal point. More often we talked about the chaos in the garden. The incredible and passionate beauty of flowers gone wild. He wanted to clean it up. To fix it. He wasn’t yet comfortable with the idea that he could leave the job he’s good at and has always done well, which provides the income that pays for the big house he doesn’t need anymore. And then we finally got there… ‘Who am I to think I can just walk away from what is expected of me and live my life exactly the way I want to live it?’ Mind you, there are no children to feed in his story and nobody will be harmed if he does whatever he wants at this point in his life. But he can’t take that first step, because he can’t find himself worthy of doing what his heart desires. And so we kept walking.
Next we came to a garden of mirrors. No matter where you stood you could see your reflection in at least one huge mirror. We moved through, finding the places where the mirrors doubled up on themselves, reflecting many of us out into infinity. And he called me over to one particular spot where you could avoid every single mirror, if you got small and held really still. The mirror metaphors were not lost on us.
We talked about Self Love all day long… How hard it is to find ourselves worthy in this world. That even when we believe in God, we don’t believe in ourselves, so what God has created in each one of us is diminished by our own criticism of it. I can remember thumping my own chest years ago, as I proclaimed the realization of my own lack of self worth. I was living out the belief that said, “This may be good enough for God, but it’s not good enough for me!” What?!? And then came my revelation… When I diminish and betray myself, I’m saying loud and clear that, in making me, God created junk. This cannot be true. So what do we do to turn this sick thinking around? We take one baby step after another until we start to see the Light of God within us. And then we just keep walking.
Later that night I got a text from him that said, “I’m going out of my comfort zone, but after today I’m not quite so scared. What I find truly amazing is that, after setting this [outing] up weeks ago, now when I needed someone to help me sort life out, here we are…” All I could say back was, “God works in mysterious ways!” And then the next morning another text came that said, “Step one complete.” Sometimes all we need is permission to open to new possibilities. Permission to see the beauty in the chaos and let ourselves be in process. Sometimes all we need is a garden full of wild flowers and mirrors to help us see how beautiful we really are… just the way God made us.
Please try this at home!
P.S. In case you’re wondering… Step one was to quit his job. He got his house in shape and sold it within a few months. He purchased a beautiful plot of land in the mountains of Colorado and he lives there now, building his dream home and living in serenity. This is his view…
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