I recently left the California Coachella Valley just when it was awash in beauty, blossoms, and color. This phenomenon ~ when the desert is richly carpeted in thousands of wildflowers ~ is called a “Super Bloom”. It happens when a late fall monsoon occurs followed by cold temperatures that lock in moisture. These conditions prepare the soil for a later explosion of desert flowers. Out of a “barren” desert floor emerges a varied and diverse orchestra of vibrant wildflowers, swaying, vibrating and pulsating with life in mid winter. The wildflowers, mere seeds only days and weeks prior, fertilized with both rain and cold at an optimal time, now quickly sprout, grow and bloom as if they know that all too soon dryness and heat will return.
One morning our retirement community looks across the street towards a wide open space of bland dirt and sand; then, overnight we wake up and happily observe a different valley, one filled with lavish displays of varied blooms that appear to pop up overnight. It’s not an annual occurrence, and comes only once in awhile inspiring folks to stop their cars, jump out and snap photos, or take that hike they’ve been postponing simply to see the desert come to life with vibrant color. It is a lovely sight which I illustrate in the opening photo. Yes, I was one of the gawkers who pulled her car over, jumped across sage brush, thistles and thorns in order to gain an unimpeded view of the valley covered in color. As if this scene weren’t beautiful enough on its own, added into the winter mixture was the towering backdrop of breath-stopping, magnificent mountains draped in snow.
I stop and breathe it all in – it doesn’t get much better than this. This is winter in the Coachella Valley, believe it or not:
Coincidentally while enjoying the fruits of this Super Bloom, I happened to hear someone share a quote from a book which caused my ears to perk up, especially when I heard the phrase “even the desert blooms”. The reader had no idea that my California desert town was concurrently witnessing a barren desert floor coming to life with color and glory —
“Our inheritance and early environment compose the soil out of which grow our thoughts and actions, both flowers and weeds. To raise flowers we must get rid of the weeds…we must keep cultivating…lest our garden be overrun by weeds. Soils vary; some are rocky, sandy, or swampy, while others are very fertile. But whatever the soil, there are appropriate flowers that can be grown. Even the desert blooms.” ~ Lois W., How Alanon Works, page 154
This got me thinking about weeds in the garden of my soul. It isn’t a new thought as I often offer up silent requests to a Divine Protector asking that He/She remove the choking weeds that stand in the way of my growth and journey towards healing and wholeness. As Step 7 in 12 Step programs states: we humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings. This step is clear – the removal process is up to a Higher Power. God may peer into the soil of my soul and generously acknowledge my gorgeous blossoms, but the reality is that noxious weeds exist along side. I may have an agenda as to which weed I would like to see swept away. Yet, God makes that determination. Perhaps the biggest and nastiest weed is not pulled first; maybe it’s a steady removal of numerous little pesky fellas sprinkled about. Yet again, it may be God’s choice to remove the largest intruder that is crowding out my beautiful and rare orchid. I don’t know… I trust that once I become willing and ask, then I resolve that God knows best and the outcome is not dictated by the restraints of my limited ego.
I also realize that this is a lifetime journey and my inner soil will never be totally free from weeds that will inevitably sneak in, so I stay vigilant and I do my best. I try to stay humble and gentle with myself. After all, I’m a less than perfect human being whose inner garden is a vast and diverse array. In recognizing that my soil produces gorgeous blooms as well as annoying weeds, I come to accept myself with all my assets and flaws. If my garden could sing, I might hear plaintive dirges as well as odes of joy. But always, always, no matter the mood of my song, it’s filled with gratitude.
The topic of my February blog reminds me of an experience that is illustrative of the contradictions we each carry inside and show to the world. One day, a friend pointed out what she thought was a negative character defect of mine. It kind of knocked me off my feet; however, a couple of hours later in stark contrast another friend wrote to say that she missed my smiling face and positive personality. I tried to reconcile the two opposing views – and as I reflect, it’s my guess that the former saw a yellow dandelion weed and the latter saw my golden yellow rose . 🙂 So yes, that is me – the negative and the positive, the energetic and the lethargic, the optimist and pessimist, the enthusiast and the complainer, the humble and the vain.
I believe I am here on this earth to evolve, to reconcile these opposing attributes in full partnership with my Higher Power. Can people change? I had this conversation with my son recently who believes that the essence of people does not change; I replied “perhaps, but I know people can grow.” So, my hope is that my weeds (shortcomings) stay in check, and that my flowers (assets) continue to flourish, thrive and achieve prominence. No one wants a garden where weeds run wild.
I am also reminded to aspire daily to keep the focus on myself. That’s a full time job – tending to the weeds and blossoms of my own garden instead of looking over a fence obsessing about my neighbor’s garden. 😉 I can also resolve to make a conscious effort to digest tough lessons, stay teachable and strive to learn something from all experiences so that my inner garden can continue to grow towards the Light which is nourishing, supportive, and most of all….unconditionally loving.
May you look inside and see your own unique beauty.