Where Hope Grows

Where Hope Grows

"Where flowers bloom, so does hope."  - Lady Bird Johnson

While I sit in awe admiring Mother Nature's ability to self-organize and self-perpetuate, it is her abundant ability to heal that brings me most hope. Often expressed through incomprehensible beauty, the tools of regeneration not only serve to create balance, but also an inherent lesson that is easy to miss if not paying careful attention.

Take the example of a vibrant native prairie ecosystem which has been industrially farmed through the force and will of human domination. Through a reductionist mindset it has seen both chemical and mechanical warfare to an extent that causes a mass extinction event to both native flora and fauna, as well as the death of her precious topsoil. To further desecrate this hallowed land, imagine a monoculture of GMO soy is sowed and fertilized through chemicals so toxic that it significantly decreases the life expectancy of humans exposed to them. What I have described here is not a hypothetical story, but rather the unfortunate fate of millions of square miles of agricultural land globally. While land like this is rapidly degraded to a mere fraction of its once abundant potential, when left to its own inherent ability to regenerate, a profound hope lies. 

Now imagine that this land we described is allowed to rest. Concepts of extraction, exploitation, and domination are removed. It is here that I am humbled by Mother Nature's capacity for forgiveness (which I can attest is greater than the human species collective tendency for destruction). In her most stressed condition, the farmed field taps into the brilliant architecture of nature and will begin cycling energy to cover her naked skin – the bare soil. By covering the soil, the system is attempting to self correct a broken energy and water cycle which will allow important biological processes to begin reoccurring. Sometimes I wonder if these early volunteer species of plants feel lonely without a complex web of life surrounding them, but when I pay attention, I have a sense that they express a greater sense of hope and potential than anything else. These first plant species are the "lighthouses" that emit information to a vast sea of potential. 

It is these early pioneer species that emerge in the most degraded land – thistles, nettles, daisies, and other flowering broadleaf plants – that give me hope. They are defying all odds by existing, and they are dreaming of a future in which energy flows abundantly through billions of sentient beings. It might surprise you to know that these "hero" plants are what we often refer to as "weeds". It might surprise you more to know that wildflowers are within the weed category, which further illuminates a connection between hope and beauty. My favorite definition of a weed is "a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.” It is here that Ralph Waldo Emerson points out that the difference between a desirable or functional plant versus an undesirable plant is human perception. Nothing in nature happens by coincidence, but rather by design, and it is the architecture of her design that we benefit by surrendering our own will. 

As Lady Bird Johnson observed, "Where flowers bloom, so does hope." Trust nature, admire her beauty, and remember that our mind lacks the capacity to understand all of nature's complexities. It is in a state of humility that we often benefit by doing less and allowing the processes of the living world to flourish.