When I was a boy, we called them “helicopters”. They are the seeds from maple trees. Released in the spring, they whirl their way to the ground or find their way into gutters and downspouts.
One day when I was doing some repairs on my roof I noticed something green sticking out of one of my downspouts. Upon closer examination, I discovered hundreds of them – “helicopters” – packed into a downspout. Fed by an almost constant supply of water, they had germinated and several had grown into small little maple trees. “Sorry little fellas,” I said as I cleaned them from the drain. “I’m afraid you’ll have to go.” I tossed the wad of roots and leaves to the ground.
As I was reassembling the drain pipe, I thought of a conversation I had had with a woman some years before. She didn’t always agree with the slogans you see everywhere such as “The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary” or “Faith makes things possible, not easy.” The one that particularly bothered her was, “Bloom where you are planted.”
“That’s encouraging folks to do something which might be impossible or just plain wrong,” she said, “and then when they can’t blossom, they feel guilty or worse, a complete failure. Yes,” she continued, “you need to make the best out of any situation…but BLOOM?! All you might be able to do is survive. Perhaps,” she concluded, “the thing needed is to get planted in some place where you can bloom.”
We both agreed that these little mini-messages need to be applied to the situation. “Bloom where you’re planted” is cautioning us against blaming others or circumstances for us not being the person God would have us be. It’s concluding that the reason “I am who I am and not the person I’d like to be” is everyone else’s fault and not mine. So bloom where you’re planted.
On the other hand, we can find ourselves stuck in some drainpipe like those little helicopters. Blooming there would be futile. Those maple seeds had no choice – not as we people do. To bloom, we need to make sure we are planted in good soil. Again, maple seeds have little to say about where they’re planted. They travel at the mercy of the wind. We are not like that. We do have a say and those who bloom best are those planted best.
True, tragedies of life can carry us to “drainpipes” and other difficult places to grow, much less bloom. When we find ourselves there, we need to remember, “This, too shall pass.”
And we all need to remember, those blooming and those trying to exist: “Live to make the world less difficult for each other.” By loving and caring for one another as Jesus loves and cares for us, we can have a garden where someone is in bloom all year long!
Rev. Wendell Mettey