“Oh dear. She’s really let herself go.”
None of us wants to be that person, our vitality and beauty so notably absent that we become the subject of shushed and sad post-reunion conversations.
As you may know, I currently live in a house that has, for lack of a nicer description, fallen into disrepair. Over the past several years, untamed roots and vines have devoured wood, brick and mortar. Brambles have been busy choking the farm’s gracious beauty, hogging all the light and suffocating all the life.
Yes. This is the back yard when we moved in. I can’t imagine why we had so few visitors?
With each consecutive sunrise here, I grow more convinced that people and things don’t just fall into disrepair. Neglect is hardly passive. It sneaks and creeps and strangles beauty with one excuse on top of another.
Neglect flourishes when someone fails to care.
As the new caretaker to a longtime neglected farm, and as a coach of people and athletes, the similarities in what is required for vibrant health and beauty are astounding: for anything to grow straight and strong and lovely, there must be space.
We tend to life and beauty by first making room for it. This involves sweat dripping down my bent back, and a great deal of dirt under my ragged nails. We make room for beauty and life by ripping out the roots of what is only going to devours in the end.
Take for example this wretched weed. It had swallowed a crepe myrtle tree whole.
Above ground, the monster was almost two stories tall when we arrived. Below the earth, I do believe it’s roots reached all the way to China! We went to work; hacking and whacking for hours that stretched into days, hardly making a dent.
In the end, David attached a ridiculously heavy chain to our ancient tractor and pulled out the root of all evil, leaving a gaping hole full of Chinese people peering up at us, so very happy to have finally made it!
It is the honest, salty and difficult endeavor of making room that tangibly cares for the dying crepe myrtles and suffocating souls. The sweat and the toil needed to hack out the weeds is what prepares the soil for nourishment and delight.
The hard work of making room creates a fertile space for joy to call home.
We wonder why we feel dry and crowded and see no fruit? Excuses leave the stubborn, underground root alone. It’s too hard to rip out after all, it requires too much of us, and don’t you know I just had a manicure? We look at the scary effort in front of us, sigh, and decide “We don’t really need flowers there, anyway.”
Neglect is not passive and excuses never make room like we think they will. Excuses help turn us into that person; a shell of who we are meant to be, our vitality a long-gone memory. Our excuses choke, crowd and lay heavy on us until we ultimately let ourselves go, and are slowly devoured.
Where do you see neglect today, friends? What is choking life that needs to be hacked away, pulled out to let the sun in?
Peace to you as you make room for joy and beauty today,
(repost with lots of edits)