August 30, 2022
Author and spiritual commentator Cassandra Tiersma could not have failed to get my attention by how she described herself.
Cassandra wrote that she is a “self-confessed messy-a.n.i.c.” (i.e., messy, absentminded, normal-ish, imperfect, and creative). She is also an interesting author, poet, and journalist.
At Unity of Roanoke Valley, we have some excellent master gardeners (Including Lewis Shontell, Celia McCormick, and Donna Haley). They have led the URV Giving Garden – which has provided many fresh vegetables to RAM House – or helped our rose garden bloom. Of course, these three Musketeers of gardening would be the first to point out that much of this came about through a fantastic team of volunteers!
I don’t know if our URV team of master gardeners would agree with Cassandra about this, but she tells the following flower bulb tale: When Cassandra and her family lived in the north, the flower bulbs loved the climate. They were easy to deal with.
But then Cassandra and her family moved down south. “Having moved from a colder, bulb-loving climate, I learned that I’d have to refrigerate my bulbs before planting them in this warmer region. In addition to the bulbs needing to be pre-chilled before planting, though, I learned that these bulbs must be planted immediately – ‘before they lose their cool,’” she noted.
She saw a powerful spiritual lesson in all of this. “I could relate to those flower bulbs. Sometimes I lose my cool too. How could I apply this horticultural wisdom to my own life so that I could avoid losing my cool? What would this look like for me,” she asked.
She concluded that flower bulbs need cool temperatures “to bloom and thrive. Likewise, I need the right spiritual conditions to bloom and thrive.” For Cassandra, this requires following a daily spiritual discipline centered around prayer and meditation.
“The fact that pre-chilled bulbs must be planted immediately reminds me that in times of stress, I need to immediately plant myself” in spiritual principles, she adds that she needs to do this “before I lose my cool.”
The above-mentioned spiritual principles are backed up by another author and spiritual commentator – Jeannie Blackmer – whom I have grown to admire. One day her son, Jordan, walked into their home and was bleeding profusely from his forehead, the result of a backyard gardening accident with a wheelbarrow and a large dumpster.
Jeanne‘s normal default position had been to panic in these situations. But her spiritual growth was significant because of her daily practices. Instead of panicking, she got something to clean up the bleeding and an ice pack.
After putting Jordan in the family car, she headed to the emergency room. Jordan turned to his mother and said, “I think I’m going to pass out.” He proceeded to do just that.
Jeannie said she “kept one hand on the steering wheel and placed the other on his knee.” She prayed and felt a real sense of peace even when “he started convulsing.” Jordan then woke up and was very disoriented. “I reassured Jordan that he was okay. At the ER, they stitched his forehead and diagnosed a concussion,” Jeannie said.
When they were finally able to return home, Jordan turned to Jeannie and said, “Mom, thanks for staying calm.” Jeannie acknowledged that “in the past, my first response to scary situations was panic.” But because Jeannie had planted some “metaphysically pre-chilled flower bulbs” in her heart and mind, her “default position” had changed for the better.
Charles Fillmore, the co-founder of the Unity movement, talked about the 12 Powers inside us all. One of these is the Power of Wisdom. As John Denver sang, “It is in every one of us to be wise.” (Why not click this link and hear John Denver remind us of this key fact.)
While Wisdom and many other spiritual powers are within us, it takes some care and dedication to bring these “flower bulbs” to bloom in our lives. But when we have taken the time to “metaphysically pre-chill our flower bulbs,” the gardens of our life can blossom even under challenging situations.
How do we “pre-chill our bulbs?” Let me make some suggestions:
- I know the word “discipline” is not fashionable in the 21st century. But it is essential, I believe, if we want to make spiritual progress. One of the best definitions I have ever heard of GOD is the Gift of Discipline.
- If discipline is not our “default” or “go-to” position, then we can thank Spirit for awakening the “gift of discipline” inside of us. Yes, this would mean going to affirmative prayer, and my experience is that affirmative prayer works! Jesus told us that “when you pray, believe that you have received, and you will receive” (Mark 11:24). This includes the gift of discipline.
- What might this discipline look like? It can look like daily prayer and meditation. It could look like journaling and inventory writing. It can mean working with a good spiritual mentor.
- It can also mean that when the crisis du jour arises – such as your son having a bleeding forehead – you immediately put the “pre-chilled bulbs” into the soil of your heart and mind. As the apostle Paul put it so well, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2).
- If there are times when we forget to do the above, we can quickly forgive ourselves and not beat up on ourselves. We are dealing with a God of infinite patience and love – which means infinite patience and love for you – yes, YOU!
Please remember that you do not have to be a “master gardener” to pre-chill some “metaphysical flower bulbs.” Also, John Denver was right, “It is in every one of us to be wise.”