This January has been exceptionally unpredictable weather wise: we’ve had balmy 72-degree days and star-dappled evenings kissed by warm, spring-like breezes. The weather has woken the flowers from their rest, and everywhere crocuses are beginning to push their way out of the soil, swiftly reaching for the warmth of the sun.
And then there have been weeks like this one, when every day dawns wet and rainy, a sky like frozen iron blanketing the world in bitter chill. A ray of sunshine feels like a blessing we can barely bring ourselves to remember. There is a snowstorm swiftly approaching and a week of frozen nights in the future, which begs the question: what happens to those delicate flowers pushing their way upward right in time for snow?
After periods of rest and recovery, the bulbs are finally ready to reveal new blooms. They expose themselves to vulnerability in order to open their blossoms to the world. These tentative blooms are strangely familiar: so too do we experience life, take periods to heal from grief, loss, anxiety or depression, and then accept our vulnerability in order to lead lives worth living.
It’s a good thing that while their blossoms are delicate, bulbs are resilient. When we work on the root of our existence, we cultivate a similar strength and resilience. Learning to love one’s self, and treat that person with compassion nurtures that strength. The therapy techniques learned in residential treatment are akin to the blanket placed on flowers to protect them from snow. They are wonderful, protective tools that help us weather the elements of life. The greatest protection of all, though, is the strength it takes to adopt those techniques and to seek help, the inner light cultivated through the healing process. The inner strength and self-compassion we nurture keeps us going through many winters.
We cannot protect ourselves from everything. In order to experience sunshine in life, we must accept vulnerability to experience – to loss or the potential for painful emotions. But that is how we receive sunlight, how we thrive. We may not be able to protect ourselves from everything, but even if the blossom suffers, the bulb is fine. So too, are we: after shedding our old leaves, we kindle the strength inside of us to bloom again and grow stronger, better and more beautifully after the winter.