Friday, July 17, 2020

Love Balm

This post is from a sermon I gave last June...
but the photo is from this week. Prayer
(and good soil) works!

I love bee balm. 
I love its vibrant colour, and its spiky flowers.
I love its name – bee balm. That’s B-A-L-M. Something soothing for the bees in a world that is dropping pesticide bombs on them.  

BUT – for all the love I have for bee balm,
I cannot get it to survive on my property.
I probably have spent a hundred dollars on bee balm plants over the last seven years, and so far, not one has returned the following spring. 

On the other hand, 
I love clematis.
I love its colours and its wide-open flowers. I love the feathery seed puffs left after the leaves fall off.
I love its name – clematis. Its symbolic meaning is ingenuity and cleverness because of its climbing prowess. 

I have several thriving clematis plants. They love growing on my property.
So…I bought another one.  Because: “Plant what will grow”. 

You also need to know that I bought another bee balm this spring [2019], and planted it in a new spot, a tried-and-true spot of good soil and lots of sunshine. 

Why? Why would I plant something that will not grow?!

Because: HOPE. 

If the clematis represents LOVE and JOY, the bee balm is HOPE and PERSISTENCE. 

It’s the hope that if I try something different, if I don’t give up, if I’m down on my knees in the dirt saying a persistent prayer over this new plant, this time will be different. 

I admit: this is the last time, the very last time I’m planting bee balm. While I don’t want to give up until I’ve exhausted all attempts, the spot it’s in right now is my final option. If it can’t grow in that spot, with the sunshine and good soil, if it doesn’t come back next spring, there will be no bee balm in my gardens.

You’re likely thinking – give it up already! Just plant what will grow!

But it’s about hope, and persistence, and not wanting to give on something we love. So we keep planting bee balm, just as we keep adding water and sunlight to a dry, withering plant.
A bit of water, a bit of light – and everything is better.  Everything is better when we love each other. When we treat each other with even a little bit of kindness. 

That’s just what humans need, too: Just enough water, just enough light, just enough love to keep us going – to keep our faith and our hope alive. 

That seems to be what we get these days. 
For every moment of terror and horror, we get an act of kindness, a measure of mercy, a story about saving grace.

I honestly don’t think we could keep going if we didn’t have the action – pain and suffering – followed by an equal and opposite reaction: LOVE and COMFORT. 

So: Plant what will grow. 
Protect the seeds, nurture them, watch over them. Persist. Don’t give up. 

Because there’s this Zen proverb: “No seed ever sees the flower.”

That’s what love is. A small seed with the potential to grow into a great big self-propagating plant. And we are in charge of that seed, my friends. 

No matter what “fertilizer” the world, and those neighbours we’re supposed to love, throw at us, we will continue to water and fertilize that seed of love. 

Let’s think of it as…love balm! May it grow in the driest of soils, and the rockiest of patches. 

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