I watered the plants one day last summer, for they didn’t look like they could wait any longer for the rain that promised to come any minute but hadn’t for days. Little sprinkles just don’t quench a great thirst, though, any more than little pecks of a kiss give justice to great passion. So I watered the plants. Within 15 minutes it was raining and continued to rain on and off for most of the afternoon. I joked with my kids that I watered the plants just so it would rain, kind of like washing the car to make it rain.
Almost as much as the plants needed water, I needed some fresh air. We had turned on the air conditioning just a couple of weeks before, so the home was sealed off from the natural flow. As good as it is to keep the humidity off our pictures and portraits, there’s something to be said for being in tune with nature as the temperature and humidity rise and fall. I was grateful for my fresh air that morning and enjoyed the once limp flowers rising tall again.
As for the rain barrels that provide the water for my watering cans, they were overfull when I began my chore. I should have known they would be filled again soon. With our summers around here, though, you never know if it’s going to rain for a week or come a drought. I shouldn’t have worried.
As with all things, if we hoard or collect, we can become stale and stagnant. It’s much better to be useful and beautiful in due course and then be renewed when the time comes.
I remember the story of the proud Zen student asking the teacher why he hadn’t experienced enlightenment, especially since he knew so much about the ways of a good monk. It was tea time, and the teacher poured the student some tea as he listened. And he kept pouring. The cup was overflowing, and finally the student asked the teacher why he didn’t stop. The teacher asked how he could teach when the student’s mind, like the cup, was so full.
Hopefully I didn’t completely destroy the beautiful story, for it is one of my favorites. (If you enjoy good, quality dharma talks and Zen stories, please visit Zen Reflections.) I think of this story, though, when I feel like I’m all used up, when like the flowers and plants, I’m wilted. It’s not entirely a bad thing. When the rain comes, when the energy returns, the sense of vitality is incomparable, the possibilities endless. Best to use while it’s fresh and make room for more than worry about what may or may not happen, wasting what is already at hand. Plus, I’d hate to miss an important lesson, not able to catch it because I thought I already had enough.
May your days be fresh and fruitful.