Beside Restful Waters

“What grows from a broken heart?”


I was driving along the edge of a small farming town and noticed a six-foot corn stalk growing from the crack between the pavement and the gutter. I found it quite odd that such a tall plant could grow with little root base and nutrition. Then I began to think of other such sites I had seen. In Colorado, we frequently saw 20 to 30-foot pine trees grown out of the edges of mountain cliffs. There was no apparent source of nutrition other than the rocks crags. Yet, there they were, seemingly strong and healthy.

I began to think of how many of us have broken hearts, cracks and crags like in the mountain ledges.

We have heard the heart break of each other’s stories of abuse and trauma. As addicts, many of us have been the source of the trauma and heart break. Yet how many of us are growing from our broken, shattered hearts.

Just how much space does it take for roots to take hold?

Mother Nature offers evidence that roots can find their way into some mighty small spaces. Watch cactus thrive in the dessert. Notice how large trees can take hold on in the crack of a mountain ledge. Notice what grows from the cracks in our sidewalks. Life can thrive in the slightest crack or crag.

Why don’t these trees and plants shrivel up and wither away? What keeps them holding on and reaching for sunlight?

What makes us hold on and reach out for life?

Deep pain seems to block out all source of light and life. Yet I hear us continuing to come together, asking – reaching – hoping for a small source of hope and life.


As I observe these odd occurrences shared by Mother Nature, I notice something not so peculiar. There are often birds resting in the tree branches and on the lonely corn stalk. I see tiny insects scurrying in the plants growing in the sidewalk cracks. I observe a variety of insect life on the cacti in the dessert. Hmmmmm?

Do these birds and bugs give these plants a purpose to hold on? Does their connection and interaction between plants, birds and bugs offer a relationship that feeds life as much as soil and water? Do each give the other purpose?

I know the connections of my support groups give me a sense of purpose and a source of nutrition. My spirit is filled when I hear that my painful story has moved another to hope. I know how the stories of others has lifted my spirit, making me want to return for more.

I also know how difficult it is to show up.

I know the times when the burden of my pain seems to weigh me down and keep me locked in. Locked in my misery, locked in my sadness, locked in my shame.

I know that some annoying bug – a friend in recovery – calls me, encourages me, kicks my ass, somehow drags me out of my pity party. I show up.

I show up!

Just like the trees and weeds, we show up for those who need us and find comfort in shared misery, or shared joy, or shared space.

We show up.

We are the source of nourishment for each other no matter how small the crack in our hearts. No matter how shattered our hearts are. We show up.

So, here we are, lodged in the cracks and crags of Mother Earth, needing each other for nutrition – support – breath – space.

Thank you.


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