A Weedless Garden

"I was neurotic for years. I was anxious and depressed and selfish. Everyone kept telling me to change. I resented them, and I agreed with them, and I wanted to change, but simply couldn't, no matter how hard I tried. Then one day someone said to me, "Don't change. I love you just as you are." Those words were music to my ears: "Don't change, Don't change. Don't change . . . I love you as you are." I relaxed. I came alive. And suddenly I changed!"

Anthony de Mello

How do you interact with "others" each day? Do you send them messages that they need to change who they are in order for you to love them, or do you allow them the space to be whoever they are and thereby convey to them your belief that they are lovable just as they are? Some might say that truly loving an "other" is creating the space for that person to grow--not into what you believe that person should be but, rather, into whatever it is that the Creator intends. It is very much like being a gardener: one cultivates the ground and plants and tends the seed, but the seed and its life come from the Creator, as does the sunlight that helps it grow. The gardener's role is not to create the plant or determine what kind of flower the plant will give forth; rather, it is simply to create the space for that growth to become possible.

The plot of human relationships is a tricky one, for the plants that grow there come in a million varieties, and each one requires its own particular care and space. And, like the millions of different kinds of flowers that grow on the earth, blessedly, each has the capacity for unfolding into something beautiful, something fragrant, something that, in its simply being, gives witness to magnificence.

Letting others "be" means limiting the amount of manure we heap on them and giving them enough personal attention and space to unfold. Our suggestion today is to walk through your own garden and note the areas where you might interact with others differently in order to provide them with such space, light, and life-giving waters of human compassion.

It is also our suggestion that you look at yourself from the same perspective, for no one tends your garden like you do. Ask yourself, for example,

What kind of plant am I today?
    How do I feel?
        What kind of texture do I have?
            Do I have thorns, am I succulent, do I feel wilted and dry?
                What do I need from life today in order to blossom?

Then treat yourself accordingly. If you are anxious, depressed, or neurotic, perhaps you are telling yourself that you need to change when you shouldn't. Give it some thought, and remind yourself instead that you are lovable just as you are. There are no weeds growing in the Creator's garden. Relax, come alive, and bloom!

Contributed by AG

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