by Chris Koellhoffer, IHM, June 5, 2016
Re-posted and formatted June 11, 2016
Here’s to the ones who stay, who remain, who refuse–out of conviction or vision or selfless love–to abandon or give up on their commitments. Stay. Remain. Accompany. These are the words I imagined hearing as I was inspecting and tending my container garden on the porch this morning.
One of the pots in my patio garden is home to spearmint, a sturdy perennial herb. It survived an early outdoor planting and the challenge of near freezing nightly drops in temperature. In just two weeks, its leaves have filled the pot and its runner vines have sprouted, indicating a desire to grow beyond its boundaries and break out of its confinement.
I was reminded of a time when I lived on Long Island and enjoyed the scent of mint growing outside the kitchen door. One of my community members didn’t share my appreciation of this determined herb. Over time, she tried every means available to eradicate mint from its coveted spot. She pulled out its long tentacles of underground root runners, sprayed it, even crushed its leaves underfoot. Still, knowing mint’s propensity for refusing to give up, I was unconcerned for its survival. Every time I passed the patch of mint that was under threat of disappearance, it was as if I could hear it saying, “See you around. I’m here to stay.” And stay it did.
The fragrance and presence of mint is an invitation to reflect on the qualities of mint that we see in human form: people who have stood with, remained with, and accompanied us in life. Recently, I read a series of questions designed to highlight the people we remember most and the reasons why we remember them with affection and in detail.
Among the first set of questions were these:
1.Name the 5 wealthiest people in the world.
2.Name 5 Heisman trophy winners.
3.Name the last 5 winners of the Miss America pageant.
Reflect on those for a few minutes and see how many names you can recall. Done? Not surprisingly, few of us remember the headliners of years past, even though they are accomplished and perhaps most acclaimed in their fields. We know that even seemingly significant achievements and accomplishments can fade over time.
Now try these questions:
1.Name a teacher who aided you when you were in school.
2.List a few friends who helped you through a difficult time.
3.Name a person who made you feel special and appreciated.
Not surprisingly, it may have been easier for you to come up with names this time. Clearly, the people we tend to remember most are the ones who have accompanied us, cared for us, loved us. People who have refused to give up on us, who will not turn back and abandon us, no matter how difficult this accompaniment becomes. People who remain, who stay while others go. People who continue to show up. People who persist.
Mint is tenacious (some might say stubborn or worse!), faithful, able to adapt to hardship and changing environments. Its fragrant leaves are often used in teas and lotions to heal, to refresh, to soothe anxiety, to calm troubled hearts.
With what qualities of mint do you resonate?
Reflect on people you know who stand with others and remain with them through their pain, anxiety, and struggles.
What values do these people hold that you might wish to deepen in your own life?
Who or what helps you to persevere and to remain present to others?
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