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The Wisdom Of The Lilacs
October 4, 2016
I love to walk on a spring day! I look forward each week to seeing how much further the lilacs have leafed out since the last time I was out and about.
Today, I was happy to see that the lilac bushes are really starting to take off!
I just love spring, spring flowers, and especially lilacs!
So, given my adoration of this pretty little bush, I have to say that I am not at all surprised that they offered me a simple, yet profound lesson today.
I noticed that most of the lilacs seemed to be growing along the periphery of neighborhood yards, typically up against a fence. Some of the smaller, presumably younger lilacs remained securely behind the fence, while other lilacs had begun to courageously poke through the holes in their fences.
This is where I began to notice what I will call the wisdom of the lilacs. I can't say that what I learned was completely unknown to me prior to today, but there is something about observing a simple, natural fact that often speaks loudly and clearly to my heart.
"Every Natural Fact Is a Symbol
for some Spiritual Fact"
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
The message was simple.
Just as the lilac is naturally lovely,
each of us is gifted with unique beauty.
And, just as lilacs grow up against fences for
support and security, boundaries are
an important part of protecting our hearts, our spirits, and even our physical bodies.
And, most importantly, they are not mutually
And, from these truths, do you know what else I realized?
I realized that we have a tendency in our world today to choose between beauty and boundaries. It is as if we can't have both.
There seems to be a belief and/or fear, especially among women, that if we lead with our beauty (e.g. natural gifts, physical beauty, power, etc.) in the world, that others will interpret our actions as "too aggressive, superficial or egotistical". Whether others really do feel this way, or not, this belief only serves to stop us short of sharing our natural gifts with the world.
And then, to the other extreme, many of us tend to create extremely robust boundaries intended to keep us from getting hurt. But in the end, we also effectively shield our beauty, power and magnificence from the world. We don't allow ourselves to grow, thrive, and stretch beyond these boundaries- ultimately keeping ourselves small, never to experience or share the beauty that we were gifted.
What I want more of for myself, my daughters, my sisters, my mother, and my friends, is the freedom and courage to grow without restriction into our greatest selves- no apologies, no fears, and no presumed invitation to others that they are welcome to take advantage of us, hurt us, or betray us.
What I see the lovely lilac bush so beautifully modelling is precisely that. It starts its young, fragile life with the support and protection of a fence. This is an important part of its early growth, and it's a time where the plant's energy can be focused on developing a strong root system. This is very similar to how we take care of our babies and young children, protecting them and providing them with a solid foundation and intentional boundaries.
As the lilac grows into its fullest beauty, it will begin to poke through the fence and flourish and bloom just beyond the fence line. This is the lilac's way of sharing its beauty and majesty with the world without ever having to let go of the security and protection of the fence. This is such a great model for us. As we move along our life's journey, we will be called to stretch and grow ourselves as we claim our life's purpose. This may feel risky at first, but when we realize that we always have our intentional boundaries to lean into for shelter and support, it actually begins to feel inviting to step out into this world and really shine.
Certainly, there will be seasons in which the lilac may die back, be pruned, or even broken off, forced once again to cling to the backside of the fence for much needed protection during more vulnerable times. We too will have that safety net. As long as we start intentionally with our boundaries created out of love, we will always have a safe place to fall back to.
So, this is what I now know for sure.
It is the healthy boundaries the we create for ourselves that will ultimately serve as a safe and solid foundation from which we can step into our fullest life. From this place we can step out into this world, proudly living the beautiful life that we aspire to...no holding back out of fear... no apologies...simply with the intention of sharing the gifts that have been so perfectly placed in our care.