Bloom Where You’re Planted

Bloom Where You’re Planted May 28, 2013

I’m on vacation this week.  Here’s an excerpt from a Sunday Service I led at Denton UU in 2007.

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At times we seem stuck. Maybe you’re waiting to finish your degree or you’re waiting for your kids to finish theirs… or in my case, waiting for your spouse to finish hers. Maybe you’ve got other family or career obligations that keep you from devoting your full attention to your goals and dreams. This is a time to bloom where you’re planted.

Once upon a time, I was a 20-something who had recently graduated from college, got a good job, got married, built a house, and couldn’t understand why I was miserable. I felt like I was waiting for something… which I was. I just didn’t know what I was waiting on. Well, after wallowing in self-pity for so long that Cathy insisted I do something, I went to talk to our Methodist minister. Rev. Bob Vickery was a retired Army chaplain who had done three tours of duty in Vietnam, and he had some stories that would have been a lot more at home in one of our CUUPS circles than in a Methodist Sunday School. He was one of those people who made you feel better just talking with him – you knew you had his full attention, and you knew he had enough wisdom and experience to point you in the right direction.

So I talked to Bob and he told me something I’ve always remembered: “They say that good things come to those who wait. That’s a lie. Good things come to those who hustle while they wait.” And he was very right. We can look at “wait time” as a trial to be endured, or we can bloom where we’re planted and look at it as an opportunity to get ready for the next big thing in our lives, whatever that may be.

In my case I didn’t feel all better right away – I still had quite a few years of growing up to do, and quite a bit more of life to experience before I could begin to put things in perspective. But I did start graduate school that fall, and that degree opened a series of doors that eventually led me to Dallas, which eventually led me here.

Now, it turns out Bob got the “hustle while you wait” quote from Thomas Edison, and I can’t imagine a better example of that principle. Edison once said: “I haven’t failed, I’ve found 10,000 ways that don’t work.” Edison’s accomplishments are a monument to perseverance and hard work; to blooming where you’re planted, even if the soil is rocky and the weather is dry.

Edison also said “All Bibles are man-made,” but we’ve already talked enough about that today.

We can’t all be heroes, but we can bloom where we’re planted. We live in a culture that worships fame and celebrity, and it doesn’t seem to matter if you’re famous for doing something great or for doing something horrible or if you’re famous for being famous. Why else would people with even less singing talent than me humiliate themselves for a few minutes on American Idol?

Not all of us – hopefully, none of us here – are that shallow. But still, we read about true heroes or people who are doing great things and it’s easy to feel like our own lives just aren’t good enough. But when Mother Teresa received the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize, she was asked, “What can we do to promote world peace?” Her answer was “Go home and love your family.”

We’re not all called to be famous heroes – some of us are called to be everyday heroes; people who make a small but meaningful difference in the lives of others. When we bloom where we’re planted, we begin to change the world for the better, one person at a time.

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  • Jessica Seabold

    I was peruzing patheos pagan section when your title caught my eye and made me smile. You see, I once had a great aunt, and her husband, my uncle, was in the Navy, and they moved frequently. When I was 14 my parents moved our family to NC, from NY – and I was in culture shock. Not long after we moved there she sent me a letter and it simply said ‘ Jessica – bloom where you are planted’. It was, and still is the best advice anyone has ever given me, because now I’M in the military and recently moved AGAIN and have been struggling to settle here, so this is just what I needed to see and hear. So thank you for reminding me.

  • Nicole Youngman
  • Dayna Euhus

    John, you may not remember me, but I used to live in Chicago and knew you through JOTD. something made me think of JOTD today, so I found you on Facebook. there was no message button on your page, so I am sending a message here. good to see you online!

  • mdbake

    a Buddhist saying: “have the courage to be ordinary”

  • Zenmyme

    I need this quote, “Bloom where you are planted” for a few reasons right now. I plan to thrive right where I am.