Presence over time


It’s interesting how those of us in four-season climates talk about the plants in our gardens — in terms of how long they’ll last. Annuals come and go in one growing season. Perennials come back every year, but mostly lie dormant below the ground in winter. Trees and shrubs — we think of them as the bones, the stalwart foundation, that last for years, perhaps a lifetime. We cherish them for their presence over time, rather than their value in the moment.

We do the same for people, don’t we?

Our lifelong friends are the trees that stand by us. They are the perennials that keep coming back. They protect us, provide us comfort and cover, and are unwavering even in bumpy weather. In our dormant season, we know they are there even if they are quiet for a while. Every so often, we lose one of them, to disease, to storms in our lives or theirs, and sometimes because we outgrow each other’s comfort.

Countless other people come through our lives. Some are momentary flashes that catch our attention; others stay for a season, maybe two. We often focus more on these temporary residents in our lives — the bright, the different, the new.  They are the annuals. Some are just bouquets of cut flowers. We have to be careful not to invest all of ourselves into these ephemeral visitors. We can enjoy them and allow them to enchance our lives, but we can never forget to cultivate those whose presence over time brings us deep connection and fulfilment.