Room to Grow


 “In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” ~ Margaret Atwood, Bluebeard’s Egg

A_StefSo here we are SheLovelys, in the thick of spring. Spring, the season whose arrival is announced by the crocus, peeking purple and hopeful from winter’s muddy bed. Spring, the season of sunny daffodils and new life.

To me, spring is walking under a canopy of cherry blossoms. It’s marvelling at pink magnolia petals, reaching wide or just unfurling from furry buds. Spring is fragrant blooms and bright green shoots, evidence that our earth is alive and flourishing.

Spring can bring an air of “out with the old, in with the new,” inspiring us to sweep away the cobwebs, clean out our closets, and tend to our gardens. My little garden is overdue for some TLC; I wish I could tell you that pretty perennials will rear their colourful heads any day now, but guess what, my gardening gloves took more than a long winter’s nap this year.

My indoor plants are another story. I water, prune and sometimes fertilize. I keep an eye out for offending gnats and spider mites. I’ve even been known to talk to my little green friends. Good plants. I enjoy caring for them–until they need to be repotted, that is. The growth I worked to nurture in them suddenly leaves me feeling duped when I realize that they have outgrown their homes. But I don’t have a big enough pot! It’s going to make a mess! What if Mr. Plant doesn’t survive the move?!

Perhaps supporting my reluctance to repot is the fact that plants living in tight quarters can still look okay; it’s easy to forget what’s going on beneath the surface. But when a plant’s roots have grown so much that they are left with little or no room to move, they become tangled and restricted. Root bound plants cease to thrive; no matter how much we water and fertilize them, they can eventually suffocate and die.

Is it possible that we, like our plants, can get root bound?

Have we jammed so much into our lives that we’ve got no room to grow? Are our minds and schedules so packed with expectations and activities that we’re ceasing to really thrive?

Maybe we’re managing, and things look okay on the surface. But if we’re constantly holding tension in our bodies, or feeling an undercurrent of anxiety about what’s on our plate, perhaps our roots could use a little breathing room.

If we’re inspired to take stock, perhaps we can settle into stillness and ask ourselves this question: Have I become root bound?

Unlike our leafy friends, we can’t just be moved into roomier homes. We can’t shirk all of our responsibilities or build more hours into a day. So how do we make space in the planter boxes that are our lives?

Maybe we make space by removing what drains us. Maybe today we can identify one thing–a task or a commitment–that can come off our To Do List. Maybe we’ve taken on too much, and it’s time to ask for help or pass the baton. Maybe we can find more reasonable expectations and grace for ourselves as we stop chasing perfection. Maybe today we can sink into good enough.

Maybe we make space by adding what sustains us. Maybe we plant prayer and meditation into each day. Maybe we carve out time to read, or stretch, or get out into the trees. Maybe when we nurture ourselves–body, mind and spirit–it’s as if we’re loosening our soil, softening our earth, and giving God even more room to work in and through us. Root bound gives way to thriving, and we flourish as our lives unfurl, reach and bloom.


Image credit: Robert Lake