I used to quite like gardening; looking at a patch of earth that I had worked on now free from weeds, weaving a climbing plant through a trellis so that it covered a fence or seeing something that I had planted grow to fruition. Then life got busy and the garden became so overgrown that the mere thought of tackling it defeated me. Martin would cut the grass and attack the bushes with secateurs, and every so often my mum (in her late seventies) would come round and tidy everything up, but I had no time or energy for the thing I used to love, and the garden grew wildly.
Until one day the wilderness had grown so out of control that I simply had to step up and do something. When I get overwhelmed with too much to do at work, I write a list and tick things off one job at a time to give myself a sense of achievement so I decided to apply the same approach to the garden. I would tackle just one area – surely I could manage that? So I started pulling out the bindweed, removing the old toys that had come over the fence from the boy next door and cutting back brambles.
In the midst of my outdoor productivity, I glimpsed a flash of pink. I continued to pull the overgrowth back until I saw a beautiful pink rose. I had completely forgotten it was there. It was a type of rose I had seen on a programme several years earlier and my lovely mum had made it her mission to look for it every time she visited a garden centre (and as she is an expert on the price of a cup of tea and a scone in every garden centre in Sussex, that was a lot of garden centres!) The rose had looked beautiful when I planted it but the garden had been neglected. And it had taken all that effort of clearing and cutting back before I could reclaim that rose. It was lovely to enjoy it again, but I knew that unless I kept the weeds down it would soon become hidden once more.
Much like my garden, I think that many of the most rewarding things in life take regular attention. Life has a habit of making us busy, and before we know it we have drifted from friends or even let silly things come between us and those we love. Small matters like a phone call not made turn into larger issues that seem too huge to overcome, and this can strangle our relationships. So if our relationships are to become the best they can be, we need to dig out the gardening gloves and give our loved ones the attention and care they need thrive, and for us to thrive in return.
When things go badly wrong or even just become mundane, renewing a relationship can seem an overwhelming task. This is especially difficult when we have been badly hurt, as forgiveness can seem like a mountain that is too huge to climb. First it takes a decision to choose to forgive, but then you have to keep deciding to walk in that forgiveness, pruning away the bitter thoughts and watering the loving ones. It is in this consistent, thoughtful way that we can maintain or rebuild broken relationships. Yes, nurturing a friendship can take effort and time that we don’t feel that we have, but who knows what roses are waiting to be discovered if only we put that time and effort in?
And if you were wondering, the rose that was planted in my garden was called “Blessings.”
Written by Rosalyn Satchell