Archives for posts with tag: Growth

Since it’s first transformation from seed to seedling the giant redwood on my windowsill has changed very little in recent months.  In the meantime, the strange caterpillars I found last August and put in a tin have just emerged from their cocoons as moths – earlier than expected.  (The elephant hawk moth is particularly stunning.)  And within 2 weeks of planting, my daughter’s sunflower seed already towers over the giant redwood.

Elephant hawk moth and lime hawk moth

Giant Redwood and Sunflower SeedlingsSometimes growth is sudden – a step change.  Sometimes it takes a long time – a strengthening of what is already there.  Often it happens in the dark, underground, when nothing seems to be happening at all.

In our own times of darkness or waiting, the world around us reveals the promise of hope and new life.  Every endless winter is followed by another spring.  Even destructive forest fires burn out eventually and life bursts forth stronger than ever.  What was once concealed out of sight in seed or cocoon, reaches for the open air in miraculous splendour when the time is right (and the shell that once protected it is discarded – dead – so the new life can be set free).

Moth Pupa Cocoons

There is a time for everything and everything has it’s time.  Some grow slow, some fast, but all have their own purpose and beauty, and a comparison between the redwood and the sunflower at this stage will not hold up in 100 years!

As the natural world shows, times of darkness and waiting are necessary to growth, and even death and pain release new life.

Kahlil Gibran said it so well:

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses
your understanding.

Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its
heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.

And could you keep your heart in wonder at the
daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem
less wondrous than your joy;

And you would accept the seasons of your heart,
even as you have always accepted the seasons that
pass over your fields.

And you would watch with serenity through the
winters of your grief.


The 2-inch high seedling in a plastic pot on my window sill is a Sequoiadendron Giganteum or Giant Redwood.

Lately I have taken great comfort from meditating on this not-yet-tree.

I grew it from a seed – the only successful seedling out of 4 seeds planted.  The dead, empty shell of the seed from which it sprang still clings to one of it’s tiny branches.  It needs to let go of what it once was.

Despite it’s present fragility it IS a ‘Giant Redwood’.  It’s DNA attests to it being one of the most magnificent trees in the world.

But while it’s identity is a fact, it’s destiny can’t be taken for granted.  It needs time, persistence and the right conditions to fulfil it’s potential.  If planted out in the wild right now, it could be choked by weeds or trampled.  Yet if cared for properly at this critical early stage, it will outgrow any weed.

There is risk – there always is in life.  But knowing it’s identity is essential to me knowing best how to care for it, and one day it will thrive beyond my care and stand far taller and stronger than it’s present appearance could ever suggest.

Tree big and small





Note to self:

You fear that life is fixed, static, and altogether less than you once imagined.  Your fears are affirmed the more you live by them.  You have heard it all before and nothing is fresh. 

No!  The cage you have built around you can be broken.  The weeds you have allowed to choke you can be outgrown – if not altogether removed – until they no longer bother you.  So much more is possible than you can now see.  Acknowledge your blindness.  Let go of control, let go of reshaping the world to your narrow perspective.  Accept you are small so that you can embrace something bigger.

Reject your inclination towards comfort, predictability and the absence of challenge.  It is false hope.  It is not the security and peace that you long for.  It is death!  Choose life – to live is to grow – with all the risk that involves.  To grow is to become who you are, to flourish – not striving to be what you think you should be. 

But you feel so small; you tried to grow by stretching the little that you have, until you gave up, exhausted.  Let the shape you have take up til now die, as the seed has to die so that all it’s potential can come to life.  Lay down all that you hold so tight. Choose to hope.  Let the light in.

But HOW?  These are just empty words.  No they aren’t.  Listen, start here: choose to hope

Choose to be thankful.  You can.  You are not a victim.  You can still choose.  The breaking of the seed, this is the breaking of the dry and constrictive shell of the habits of thought you have formed.  It might hurt but you CAN choose to break it. 

Start by being thankful for all the small things.  The things right here right now.  Life begins here, now in the midst of your brokenness and weakness.  Because you CAN find good in this dark world, and if you really look you will see life springing up all around you.  And within you.  In the midst of the mess.  This is not false optimism.  It is not denying the hurt, the darkness.  It is just redressing the balance.  Because goodness is real too.  And wouldn’t it be better to stare intently at the light, small as it may be, instead of the darkness?

Root out the bitterness.  Remind yourself of the former things, the things that once gave you life.  Look forward to the things to come that you can’t yet imagine and let yourself dream again.  Give.  Be the flower that opens up to the sun and to passers by, fragile but beautiful, not the closed bud, tight, safe, but unfulfilled.

Perhaps I am being an idealist. 

Why not be an idealist? 

Perhaps, when you have laid everything down, you will be able to pick it up again with a looser grip that sets it free it in ways you can’t imagine.  Or perhaps your open hands will grasp new things that clenched fists couldn’t hold. 

Don’t think of arrival but adventure.  It may take time.  Growth takes time.  To live is to grow!