Saturday, August 17, 2013

Living Like Hydrangeas

This summer we visited my husband's aunt (along with many other friends and family members) during our summer vacation. On the way into her home I saw a beautiful hydrangea and had to snap a picture.
On the way out of the house I noticed that same hydrangea, now with the sun shining on it. It looked so different, yet still so beautiful in a new way, that I took another picture.
Three days and two hundred miles later I saw another hydrangea in a yard near my parents house. It was a brilliant, vivid blue, quite different from the pinky-purple of the one at our aunt's house.

Here is the thing about hydrangeas: like any flower, they may look different in one lighting or another. But hydrangeas do something more. They bloom in different colors depending on the soil where they are planted. In acidic soil, the flowers are blue, in more alkaline soil, they will be pink. And they come in a dozen shades in between too. It is not a matter of different strains of the flower either, because if you don't like the shade of your hydrangea you can amend the soil and get it to change color. I have been attracted to hydrangeas ever since I learned this about them.
Why am I sharing this here when you could look it up in any plant encyclopedia? Well, aside from the excuse to post some pretty pictures, I do actually have a good reason for discussing hydrangeas.
Like these flowers--like any flower--we do not really have a choice about where we are planted, or about what experiences we will have in our lives. In some lights or circumstances we will appear one way, and in other lights or circumstances we will look different. But hydrangeas are something special because of how they react specifically to the soil where they are planted. Some plants will die if their soil is too acidic or too alkaline, but hydrangeas simply adjust. They take what they are given and become a new kind of beautiful.
I think we all have the potential to be like hydrangeas. Initially we may mourn when we realize that we cannot be the same as someone else's kind of beautiful, or someone else's kind of happy. But our life experiences--where we are planted--don't allow us to be the same as those who grow in other soil. Ours is to work with the soil we have, and to realize that we have our own beauty, our own goodness, our own kind of loveliness. We should not be jealous because we are different, we should be proud because we have bloomed where we were planted.

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