I recently spoke with a congregant who shared the following life advice:
“Treat every relationship like a flower in a garden. Pay attention to it. Water it. Get rid of the weeds. Just a few minutes a day allows the flower to bloom.”
I couldn’t help but think about what happens when you oversaturate a flower. Put the flower in too much sunlight, the petals dry out. An overabundance of water, the plant drowns, unable to breathe.
Just like gardening, paying attention in a relationship is actually a very tricky thing. In our closest of connections, it takes time to learn how much someone else needs to speak, when we should listen, the appropriate ways to hold back and the right moments to offer our hearts. Just like a recipe in baking a cake, too much sugar ruins the dessert, and too little changes the taste altogether. Watering a flower so that it blooms to its greatest potential takes finesse, sensitivity, empathy, and grace.
Rabbi Israel Salanter once spent time in a shoemaker’s home. It was late at night and Salanter saw the shoemaker working by the light of a candle, barely flickering. Salanter said, “Look, your candle is about to go out. Why are you still working?” The shoemaker continued his work and replied, “As long as the candle is burning, it is still possible to mend.”
As long as we have the moments in our lives to attend to those we hold dear, why not show the care, attention and love they deserve?
Get to know the amount of water, light, and shade our relationships need. It may take some time, but just imagine the gardens we might grow.