I know my neighborhood pretty well so I can tell when sod has been laid down, or a fence put up, or flowers planted. I love walking my dog Max on Monday morning because I get to see the fruit of the weekend labor.
This morning I saw a woman start to get in her car to go to work, but she paused and stood there looking at her newly planted garden with a kind of awe and appreciation for the work she had done. You know how you do--you sort of stand there and think, "How the hell did I ever do that?" Then, with a groan, she got in the car. (Sore muscles are always the most painful a couple days after the labor.)
As a chaplain I get to be with cancer patients as they are doing hard personal and spiritual work. Going through chemo and surgery is like laboring all weekend in the garden. But unfortunately for me, I don't often get to see patients on "Monday" after they have done the work and experienced the transformation.
But once in a while, I'll run into someone a year later and that's when I get to have the "Monday" experience. I get to see the fruits of their labors. Their hair has grown back, perhaps they have a new appreciation for life, perhaps their family has a new appreciation for them. Maybe they've discovered who they really are. It's a gift for me to see how they've grown.
But this growth doesn't happen all at once. In the same that way planting a shrub doesn't necessarily mean that it's taken root; having cancer and all the realizations that go along with that doesn't guarantee personal growth. You have to water, weed and feed your new self.
And just so you know: I don't allow Max to pee on any new plantings. It just doesn't seem right.