The plants from my old home show signs of being loved too little. Dry soil, brown-ish stems, undesirable flowers from basil plants that expose my lack of regular pruning and harvesting. For the new place, friends gave us fresh herbs in these brilliant biodegradable pots that could easily be replanted into larger pots, complete with potting mix and plant food, as the most lovely housewarming gift. After receiving a second collection of herbs as party favors from the wedding of two beloved friends, we now have a wonderfully fragrant mix that I diligently repotted and placed in our back deck. Now I face the danger of loving these plants too much. Overwatering is such a strong temptation. But for many of these delicate plants, less is more. They need challenges that will push their roots to grow. They need space to breathe, to absorb nutrients, to not be drowned out by my insistence on loving them with all the water I can flood them with.
Neglect in love is easy. But restraint in love can be so hard.
I had a gently confrontational, gracious but uncomfortable, expected but somewhat unexpected conversation with someone the other day. I suppose you could call it a mild form of discipline. This person, many years my minor, is dear to my heart for so many deeply heartfelt reasons. My heart longs for so much for this person, but I found that everything I wanted to say was going to come out sounding like a lecture. This person did not want or need a lecture. The discipline was needed but the love had to come through. And I felt in my gut that the love had to take the form of restraint. Making the point short and sweet, and letting the person work through it on their terms, in their time. Let the roots grow. Give space to breathe. Don’t drown out their thoughts with too many of my own.
I know how to neglect love too well. Once in a while I know how to love much. But restraint in love. That can be so hard.