A couple of relatives came for lunch last week and brought this beautiful flowering florist’s Cyclamen as a present. It will be a good companion for the Prayer Plant mentioned in a previous post. Each morning after I’ve celebrated morning service I draw the curtains and tend the plants that live by the window. Anybody who has plants knows that communing with them attentively is all part of their care. I approach them with an inquiring thought for their particular need of the moment. Perhaps a misting from a spray bottle for the Prayer Plant, which does well in a humid atmosphere, and a dribble of water on the soil for another. Not too much though, some plants can drown and die from too much water. The Cyclamen, I was instructed, must be watered from below so it can take up just as much water as it needs, its round tuber easily rots if watered from above. Apparently cyclamen will go dormant if the room rises over 20c. Thankfully there’s little chance it will rise that high.
It feels good to have plants around and to benefit from what they give. I expect there’s scientific knowledge regarding why this is so. I know already it’s beneficial to health to have plants around one’s work space, which invariably includes electronic equipment. But I’m thinking the benefit I derive is from the opportunity the plants give me, to give to them. To give them care and attention. Living things do not flourish and eventually die if they are not looked after properly. We are guardians to that which surrounds us are we not?
Not only living growing things suffer from our neglect of them. I’ve a couple of new books, hardback books, which came in the mail recently. Hardback books are the royalty of the bookcase and I can hardly remember having a new one. So I’ll be taking care of them covering them with brown paper as protection from the rigors of regular use. In all of this it’s important to walk the middle way since it is all too easy to overdo it with lavishing care and attention. As with plants and books so too with our fellow human beings! Too much attention is stifling, being neglectful of expressing love and compassion is saddening. However if our capacity to express gratitude has withered up we are traveling away from the heart of Buddhism.
There is a saying: If bowing lasts, Buddhism will last. At the heart of bowing is gratitude.