Bonsai

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Yesterday I bought a bonsai.  I’ve been waiting years to have one–nearly since I have heard of them.  My bonsai is not one long cultivated by a master gardener and sold for hundreds of dollars.  Mine came in a little porcelain dish from my local Lowe’s store for $22.98.  The 20-something woman watering all the plants said she had always wanted one too.  The checkout lady admired it thinking it was a gift.

“No,” I said.  “It is for me.”

Like the genuine and respectable Enneagram 5 personality type that I am, the Investigator or Analyzer, over time I’ve studied the art of bonsai thoroughly.  I’ve checked out books from the library, visited several Japanese gardens, drooled over these intricate shapes at numerous horticultural events and landscape stores.  I even took a bonsai class and purchased bonsai pruning shears–but alas–no bonsai for me…until yesterday.

It’s likely my Enneagram 4-wing, the Romantic, that draws me to these little miniature windswept masterpieces–kind of in the way that I am fascinated with Tiny Houses, and have spent many hours watching shows on designing and building them…and yet do not own one.

To me, a bonsai is a metaphor for life– the Master Gardener trimming and twisting, pruning and shaping, bending and supporting–hence strengthening,

the plant:

me–

us–

makes us into lovely masterpieces.

I’m going through the Ignatian Exercises for a second time in my life.  I am doing the longer version and one that follows the Liturgical Calendar.  We are headed toward Lent–the time when, like my bonsai, we bend down–to receive ashes and remember that we are dust.  We trust Hands to our roots and branches–even in the valley of the shadow of death.  We know that we are a beautiful creation with the training eyes and touch of our Master Gardener.

To prepare for the exercises, the book I’m following invited me to pray a prayer by Thomas Merton:

My Lord, God, I have no idea where I am going.

I do not see the road ahead of me.

I cannot know for certain where it will end.

Nor do I really know myself,

and the fact that I think I am following your will

does not mean that I am actually doing so.

But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.

And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.

I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.

And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,

though I may know nothing about it.

Therefore will I trust you always

though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.

I will not fear, for you are ever with me,

and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

(The Ignatian Adventure: Experiencing the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius in Daily Life, Kevin O’Brien, SJ, Loyola Press, Chicago, 2011, page 37)

After reading Merton’s prayer, I wrote my own–and my new bonsai reminds me of my prayer during this time of spiritual cultivation and training:

God,

I want to do this for us–

for our relationship to grow.

I feel like a kindergartener*:

I the kinder

You the Teacher;

I the branch

You the Gardener.

I am wild,

and prone to return to the wild

whenever I look away

or leave your training twine.

Handle me.

Touch me, O Gardener.

Apply me to your training espalier.

Help me stay pliable–

not to stiffen up in my “knowing”

but to remain supple;

not to resist your twists

upward and outward.

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*https://www.etymonline.com/word/kindergarten

5 thoughts on “Bonsai

  1. Loretta! Mistakenly I thought I’ve grown during the past 35/36 years but if correct, the pruning and training have diverged wildly from yours! I am at “work”, meaning daughter Pam’s house waiting for two grandchildren to wake up and don’t have the dictionary needed! Thank you for providing-“links?”

    Like

    • Hi Rickey! So good to hear from you.

      The metaphor of the bonsai closely shadows Jesus’ about us being the branches and our Father the Vinedresser. (John 15). The vinedresser often prunes away large sections of the branches to cause an increase of fruit—He also trains the branches along the trellis to be able to catch the sun and bear the fruit. The biggest plant is not the goal, but a fruitful maturing is of course desirable.

      The bonsai is also similar to the example of God as the Potter and us as the clay (Isaiah 45:9, 64:8& Romans 9:20-21). He crafts us to His use and aesthetic.

      As to kindergarten— kinder refers to children and garten to an actual garden. Despite our desired growth & maturity, we are and remain as children in the watch of our Father who placed His creation in a garden to begin with.

      God’s blessings on you & your family!

      Like

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