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A few words on flourishing...

I was recently asked to contribute to my company's Women In Business site. The request was to expand on the word "flourish." With my love of florals and Spring upon us, I thought I'd share with you what I shared with them. I hope it encourages you as you enter this wonderful season.

When I was asked to write a piece on the word flourish, I thought about the fact that we are currently anticipating the beauty of Spring. The daffodils are just starting to pop up which means the glory of the next season is not far away.

But I did think, what does it mean to flourish? When I think of a flourishing garden, I think of the beautiful tulips that fill the massive beds at Atlanta’s Botanical Gardens or the Rose Garden at the Carter Center that seems to erupt with splendor overnight. It’s breathtaking, full, vibrant and I find that I want to immerse myself in it. But I also know, it didn’t just appear that way. It took a good bit of tending, intentionality, and patience to get there.

This got me to thinking, maybe I should research “how to make your garden flourish.” I am not an avid gardener, after all, and prior to Covid I pretty much killed every plant I encountered. During Covid this took a different turn. I was able to figure out how to make my plants live – even thrive. And the main reason I found success, I started paying attention. I learned what the plant needed before I planted it. I watched the signs it would give me – wilted leaves, dry soil, discoloration, pesky bugs, and I treated it accordingly. The success of my plants was a result of my tending. And this was certainly what I found when I googled “how to make my garden flourish.” It was a long list of all the things to consider and do in order to find this beautiful result.

This reality is not much different than what is needed in our own lives in order for us to do the same. The thing is, we all know this, and yet it’s difficult for us to prioritize it. We even feel guilty when we do it. But what can we learn here? What are the themes? Three things came to mind:

Tending is a consistent practice. To care for yourself needs to be more than just a one-off thing. In order to flourish, we need take the time to tend, nourish, feed, water, and even prune. This isn’t a once in a while action. Caring for ourselves should really be a continuous practice.

But before this makes you feel overwhelmed… the act of growing a flourishing garden is quiet and slow. If you have ever tended a plant from a seedling, you see this. It’s quiet. It’s not rushed. It’s slow and it tends to take the same activity over and over again – determining with time what needs to tweak and change (like more water or less, better sunlight or too much).

But the last big aha for me was the most freeing. Flourishing shouldn’t and can’t be a continual state. God teaches us this through seasons. The Spring does erupt and flourish with absolute glory but there are three other seasons (THREE) where this isn’t the case. In summer, those flowers wither in the heat. The leaves turn vibrant color and fall in the beauty of autumn. And plants lie dormant through the cold of winter. The garden does not flourish all year – and nor should we expect to. Those months are for tending, caring, preparing...

And this is the biggest lesson of all. We don’t have to or need to live in a state of flourishing.

Flourishing is the outcome of our tending through all the various seasons

– through the heat of summer, the death of fall, and the dormant, cold winters. It’s in these seasons where we prepare to flourish – tending, caring, and waiting patiently to erupt in glorious splendor for a season, for a time, and then, we get to do it all over again.

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