Monday, May 7, 2018

Mama's wisdom | bloom where you're planted

Long before the boxes are unpacked, my mom puts a magnet on the fridge.

“Bloom where you’re planted.”

In a life of constant transition, frequently uprooting from a now-familiar place to move once again to new cities, states, and even countries, it’s a blessed and much-needed reminder.

Over the years the phrase sinks into my bones.

I add my own to it: an index card with a Jim Elliot quote in blue letters:

“Wherever you are, be all there.”

Over the years, I build up a collection of quotes, Bible verses, fragments of sayings circling the idea of being present, making a home, putting down roots while knowing another change is just around the corner. Clinging to a heavenly home while making a haven of each place of sojourning.

There are two ways to handle the constant moving.

One is to remain distant, getting by on superficial relationships and minimal involvement. You avoid making ties to people and places in order to minimize the pain of parting. Don’t nest, because soon enough you’re going to have to pack it all up again.

The other option is to choose to put down roots. It’s a deliberate choice, made because you know the richness and joy of a life rooted in a particular place and a particular community. But you count the cost every transition. Uprooting is exhausting, and you leave a part of your heart behind you. Every. Single. Time.

I’m a roots person.

As I ran through a park in Munich today, reveling in the uncontainable outburst of spring, I realized why.

A plant can’t bloom if it doesn’t have roots.

I have to put down roots, however temporarily, or part of me will wither. I would much rather have a rich life with bittersweet partings than close myself off from pain and joy alike.

This is a common theme for me, and it’s at the forefront of my thoughts right now.

It’s not just the visible presence of spring and new growth that has me pondering transient rootedness.

A year ago today, I graduated from college. That particular uprooting was agony.

Now I’m waiting to hear if I get to stay in Munich for another year or if something else is in store.

When I moved here eight months ago, I assumed I’d be here just shy of a year. Even so, I became a member of a church, joined a choir, hung pictures on my wall. I made the space a spiritual and physical home, not simply a place to spend the night.

During the times when I got restless and lonely and frustrated with the challenges of being in a new job in a new city in a foreign country, I challenged myself be more present here instead of withdrawing and hunkering down until my time was done.

Now I have two possibilities: stay another year and continue to deepen the roots I have here or transplant again come July.

Whether now or later, inevitably I will pack up and leave Munich. I’ll move to another place. And one of the first things I do there will be to unpack my own reminders. Reminders to bloom where I’m planted, to be all there in spite of – and because of – the knowledge that eventually I’ll move on again.

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