Don't mistake Dormancy for Death
To Everything there is a Season
Lately I've been reflecting on the ebb and flow of life. I note that there is no constant state, but rather an ever shifting reality. There are the high points in life when one feels invincible and on top of the world; followed by times of utter despair and crushing lows.
I was reminded of the seasons of the year and how they are metaphorical for the seasons of our lives.
Much as we don't live in a perpetual state of summer, or of winter, neither do our lives reflect only one such season of good or of not so good.
I have a lemon tree that I purchased just under a year ago when I first made the move to Phoenix, Arizona. I have long wanted to have a tree that bears fruit. There is just something so lovely about growing something and then being able to eat it's yield. My tree did bear it's first crop last December and it was a joyous day that I was able to harvest all 16 of the beautiful little Meyer's Lemons it yielded.
The winter came and the tree did fine. As spring came the tree started to bud furiously and the bees were busy pollinating. I was excited that I might get a second crop in a single year as I saw some of the blossoms become tiny green bumps that were evidence of future lemons.
Before these burgeoning lemons could get very large we began our HOT season here. When I say hot, I mean triple digit heat that is like a blast furnace. I noted my little baby lemons were not getting very large and my tree was shedding leaves at a more rapid rate than ever so far in it's young life with me.
It got to the point that the tree began to look skeletal with the 2 small lemons clinging to vines that were otherwise bare. I started to despair that perhaps I was over watering it in my attempt to staunch it's death from the intense heat. Then I fretted, perhaps I was not watering it enough, and thus began a better regime of daily watering. The leaves continued to fall and I started to worry that it was too late; my lovely tree was dead.
Then, one day just last week I noted that in place of all the dead leaves I saw new growth of very small, green leaves. Over the coming days, I decided to be more solicitous of my tree to see if perhaps it could be saved. I fertilized it; cleaned the dead leaves from the pot and spread the mulch a bit more evenly. I pruned some of the dead growth that had all but fallen.
And....voila`! I can see each day new leaves, fresh and deeply green. It brings such joy to my eyes to see that the tree is in fact still very much alive...it simply had shed it's dead leaves and gone a bit dormant in preparation for it's resurrection!
This made me think about the times in my own life that have seemed like death; be it relationships, my own journey of self discovery, or a job prospect. I want to explore that idea a bit more fully.
Why Dormancy is necessary
It occurs to me that dormancy is a built in way of ensuring growth without exhaustion of resources. For instance, my tree had the wisdom innate in it's little being that it must conserve itself by going dormant in order to survive the rigors of the intense heat of summer. It knew intuitively as these living things do, that to go dormant would decrease it's needs for water and nourishment and allow it to continue to live, but not to flourish.
And, in so doing it got to rest and recover and again begin to bloom with new leaves. I've no doubt that before long it will begin the process of forming new buds and the bees will return to do their magic dance of pollination and more lemons will be born!
Much like my lemon tree, we all go through these periods of dormancy. But, we can get so frightened by these dormant periods as to think that death is happening and not just a "break".
What if I had taken my beloved tree to the dumpster and just given it up as dead? It might have been able to rally a while longer and continue to come back to life, but over time it would certainly have died. But, I gave it time and in that time I was able to see a spark of life; just enough to keep me invested in nurturing it and keeping it from dying.
Well, we need to be as vigilant in our own lives as I was with my tree! When we have a dormant period in life; perhaps a relationship that feels like it's run it's course, or a plan we have been dreaming of fulfilling seems to no longer be possible to "bear fruit" it's easy to want to just chuck it all and take it to the "dumpster" and give up. Move on, find a new relationship; create a new job plan...but get rid of that old thing and do it now!
That temptation comes from being uncomfortable with the dormant period. It stirs something for us that doesn't feel good; it makes us feel antsy and worried that we have wasted our time...perhaps wasted our lives on something or someone that is for all intents and purposes Dead!
But, what if we instead took the tactic of assuming that this was simply a dormant period? That the relationship or job plan were simply in need of some time to regroup and regenerate? Maybe if we just breathed deeply, stepped back and allowed the dormant period to simply be...maybe then the change could manifest that we've been so looking forward to?
Nurturing through the Dormancy
I too have been like my beloved tree. I have felt depleted and that there simply was not enough water or sunshine to bring me back to the fullness of life I had once experienced and so dreamt of having again.
But, I have also learned over the years that those dormant periods brought me some much needed spiritual growth along the way. Just as the tree needed to conserve it's resources by dropping it's leaves and shrinking into itself, so have I been able to go within during these dormant periods to get clear about where I wanted to be when the time came to again blossom.
It is certainly not easy to feel that you have lost your way; that your sense of purpose has gone off the rails and you have become rudderless in choppy seas! It is scary, lonely and often very confusing. But, sometimes we just have to ride out the storms and have faith that there is a clear sky and smooth sailing on the other side.
I know that it takes a certain amount of fortitude and determination to ride out the rough seas of life and to not give up and chuck the "tree" into the dumpster. And I can honestly tell you that on more than one occasion in my life I've been close to chucking myself into that proverbial dumpster! I am thankful that I've been able to stand strong even when I felt weak and to keep pressing onward even when it was the last thing I wanted to do.
I know what it feels like to wake up in the morning with nothing but dread for the day ahead. To feel utter despair and depression that there is anything positive to look forward to. I've lived through weeks, months and maybe even years of desolate dormant periods that felt like I was merely existing, and not really living.
But, thankfully I've also come through these dormant times and into times that yielded so much joy and blessings to know that it is possible! I have lost a few very loved people to suicide over the years. I confess, that has been something I considered an option in my own life more than once in my lifetime. But, now that I've found the truth of living fully and embracing life with it's ups and it's downs, I am so grateful that I've not gone that route!
It is not easy to talk about suicide, depression and feeling like there is nothing left to live for. But to fully embrace all that life has to offer, we can learn from seeing where other's have been derailed. This is not the time nor forum for me to go further into the topic of suicide or depression, but I do want to share that I am human and I too have suffered through these dormant periods and have come out the other side.
I wish to help others find their peace and their joy and to recognize that dormancy is not death! It is a necessary lull in the action so that resources can be gathered for the coming splendor. And there is splendor and joy to be had! I believe that some days you just have to work a bit harder at finding the joy, but it is always there if you look.
My wish is for any of you that find yourself struggling with a dormant situation in your life; be it a loved one in your life, a job that isn't fulfilling or your own self growth that seems to have ground to a stand still to not give up! Do not chuck it all out and assume that it's dead! There will be a time when you know for sure that nothing can be done to save the situation or the other person and you can let it go. But first, be willing to nurture and see if maybe you only need to allow some time and the dormant period will give way to new growth and joy.
You will never regret the efforts and patience you give to something, but you most certainly will regret it if you give up on something that has gone dormant, but has not yet died.
I wish you all the discernment and patience to live through your dormant periods and that you will enjoy many beautiful harvests of love and joy in your future.