Finding Success at the Bottom or…Pink Lotus Flowers Destroy Arrogance

I drive through a certain neighborhood every day.  It is a pleasant bit of suburbia – neat, prosperous, bland.  There are no front yard saints or fountains, no colored lights or blowups at Christmas, no shocks of cornstalks and pumpkins during the fall; no colored plastic eggs hanging from bushes; in other words, nothing to show any humor, individuality or character.

However, there is one house in the midst of humdrum.   The yard of this house has been terraced and each terrace is rife with flowers and shrubs.  Blooms explode from mid-February until almost Christmas.  Everything that can bloom in this southern climate is planted in that yard.  Several times a week, the owner of the house is tending to his yard.  While the yard is a jubilant and colorful scream against the neighboring houses and yard, it is also neat and well-kept.  It is not a tawdry yard.  It is planted with thought and care.  There are also two flag posts: one with an American flag, the other with a Vietnamese flag.

One day, as I was driving through, I noticed tall plants with round, elegant leaves.  A few days later, sharply pointed buds appeared.  The next week, I slowed almost to a stop as I gazed in wonderment – they looked like it, but they couldn’t be…..lotus flowers!  Pure glowing white, deep rosy pink.  Lotus flowers grow in water, I told myself.  They do not grow in the front yard of a home in neutral zone suburbia.  The next day, there were more buds in bloom.  Soon, there were the seed pods of lotus blooms left after the blooms died.  I puzzled and puzzled.  They can’t be lotus flowers.

 I determined that if I saw the owner of the home out working in his yard, I was going to stop and ask him what those exotic flowers were.  A couple of weeks later, I had my chance.  I drove by and saw the man.  I did a reckless U-Turn and pulled into his driveway.  He looked up from his wheelbarrow.  I got out of my car and slowly went towards him.  I did a courteous bow and told him I did not mean to intrude, but what where those beautiful pink and white flowers in his yard.  Lotus, he said with a smile, which grew wider at the expression on my face.

“I show you”, he said.  Plastic tubs were submerged in the Virginia soil and filled with water.  I looked into them and saw a complex maze of roots from which the stems and flowers grew.  I looked at him and delight and bent down closer to the submerged tubs.  This is absolutely incredible and amazing!  These are gorgeous!!!  I stood up and clapped my hands in delight.  I bowed to him and told him he was the best gardener in the county and how much I loved his yard.  He laughed and bowed and we were both of us happy with each other, the lotus flowers, and the yard.  He explained he had brought them “from home”.  Asked if I knew how to eat the roots, I told him yes.  He bent down and began to strip some roots from various tubs and gave me, along with several green seed pods and a huge leaf for me to steam rice in.  I held my treasurers in my hands and bowed with my head almost touching the ground and thanked him.  I drove off in anticipation of using the parts of the lotus.

A couple of weeks ago, I was re-assigned to different tasks.  I am lucky to have a job.  In this economy, things like this happen all the time.  I went from the top of barrel to the bottom of the barrel, in one fell swoop.  The fact that it was an act of inner political revenge didn’t make it easier to take.  I realized, after the fact, my arrogance.  I did an important and brain draining job.  Trust me, I felt my importance.  I’m still not happy about the re-assign, but I am learning more about myself.  I was a nice person and did a lot to help people, but…….my tongue was a laser that could cut through titanium.  My intellect was what I worked on growing more than my heart.  Yes, I was kind and giving but………I can be more so.

In the bottom of my barrel, I am working on developing roots that feed and nurture those other than myself.  I’m putting out stalks to reach for the sun and produce a bloom that is so beautiful, it makes people driving by do a U-Turn to get a closer look – a bloom that gives joy and fragrance without stint.

I found out one sure thing at the bottom of my barrel, God is with me at the bottom just like He was at the top.  “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…..He restores my soul….”  Psalm 23

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