Here’s a thought I’d like to share…
I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it. People think pleasing God is all God cares about. But any fool living in the world can see it always trying to please us back.
~Alice Walker, The Color Purple
“Those are volunteers” my grandmother used to say with a smile when we’d see flowers growing in unlikely places. Even as a kid, I thought the term “volunteers” was the coolest way to describe random, accidental flowers. Smiles, dropped in strange places, just because.
Volunteer plants are those that come up with no effort on anyone’s part. How cool is that? No effort required. Maybe they grow from seeds dropped by flowers from another year, or maybe the seeds get there some other way – on an animal’s fur, on the bottom of someone’s shoe, the wind carries them there – countless ways, all of which result in a touch of color somewhere that wasn’t planned (or at least not by any person).
So, as I was driving from work the other day, I smiled as I noticed the “volunteers” underneath the hanging flower baskets in downtown Fairhope. Being at the traffic light, I was able to get a quick picture. I wish I could have sent it to my grandmother, she would have liked it.
“Volunteers” are the flower world’s “ripple effect” – accidental good things that sprout from intentional good things. Beautiful hanging baskets planted and cared for – very intentional beauty. And then the random extra spots of color, the adornment of the ground under the baskets – simply a byproduct of that previous good intention. Yep, that’s just cool.
I think random acts of kindness, big and small, produce “volunteers” in all kinds of ways and places. Smiles produce smiles. A kind word, a sincere gratitude, a helping hand, a thoughtful deed – these intentional acts spawn ‘touches of color’ that wouldn’t be there otherwise.
My grandmother was always teaching me one thing or another, and she scattered many a seed in the garden of my soul. She was intentional about how she lived – that was her garden. The “volunteers” that show up in my “life-garden” (like a love of flowers and trees, a special fondness for cardinals, the best-ever banana pudding, and the phrase “You can worry if you want to; I just never saw where it did any good.”) are bonuses – extra places of color and love that I get to enjoy because of the intentionality with which she lived.
By the very definition of “volunteers,” we don’t get to choose where, or in what form, they bloom. We can only choose to intentionally plant beautiful things – to live with intention – what comes from that, or how far it spreads, is not ours to decide.
The moral of the story:
1. Live with intention (and let go of the outcome).
2. Look for the “volunteers” all around you.
3. Enjoy the random splashes of color!