Friday, September 6, 2013

Spiritual Deadheading

My best friend in high school, Nancy, had a green thumb. Her house, and later her college apartments, were resplendent with all manner of hanging and potted plants. I particularly admired her ability to grow coleus---especially the big, bold, eye-catching, serrated varieties. Back in the 1970s, my alcoholism was just gathering momentum, and I was more preoccupied with where my next drink was coming from than with watering and maintaining houseplants. Nancy, on the other hand, had a knack for nurturing green things, and under her care, they flourished. Routinely, Nancy pinched off the purple buds protruding from the centers of the leaves. "What are you doing?" I wanted to know, fascinated and puzzled at the same time. She patiently explained deadheading to me. By definition, to deadhead means to remove a plant's spent flowers. To do so, channels the energy away from seed production into further flower production.

Decades later, deadheading has become a metaphor for an important tool in my spiritual arsenal. I have learned (the hard way) that holding on to anything out of fear blocks wisdom and spiritual growth.  To grow I must be willing to relinquish the fear of "what if." If I quit this job, will I find another?  If I end this relationship, will I find another mate?  If I move to a new community, will I make new friends? Being fearless today, I don't lament dead flowers.  I don't lament the people, places, and/or things that have had their glory and weren't meant to last. Like the coleus and other greenery flourishing on the fire escape of my little apartment today, I must be willing to discard the old and await the new. Experience has taught me that with faith and courage, I can channel my energy into spiritual production instead of atrophy. What/who are you clinging to today? What seeds can you channel into flowers?

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