When the squirrel tips the pot

By Brenda Hopf

Connecting Faith and Life

I really look forward to planting flowers in Spring. It is one of those things that brings a sense of peace to my soul. I love the feeling I get from the visual effects created by the different blooms and foliage as the flowers mature throughout the summer and fall. My siblings also have the same passion for planting, and creating beautiful flower and vegetable gardens. It must be in our genes, as our parents and grandparents have done the same in the past. 

Along with the planting comes a huge responsibility if the plants are to survive and thrive; watering, fertilizing, weeding, insect control and many other tasks are associated with keeping flowers and garden plants healthy and productive. Then there are animals like deer, rabbits, chipmunks, squirrels and more who can wreak havoc on the plants in various ways. 

I will do my best to maintain my flowers by nourishing them and protecting them so that not only I can enjoy their beauty, but so I can share it with others as well. Invariably though, things will happen that will be out of my control; like that cute squirrel who tipped over the small pot on my deck. I opened the door and yelled to chase it away. How dare that squirrel mess with my plants, not to mention the mess it made. I immediately went out, picked up the pot, repositioned the plant, put what dirt I could back into the pot, hoped for the best and called the squirrel a not so nice name.

Isn’t it interesting how I did not give up, even when the pot was tipped and dirt spilled everywhere? If only we could approach life in the same way. Life is not always easy. Life can be challenging. People get in our faces and on our nerves, and we have likely done the same. Pots get tipped, dirt spills and the temptation to give in or give up is very strong. 

I just recently had an experience that caused me to want to do just that; throw in the towel and give up. Someone misunderstood my intentions and hurt my feelings by their actions and words. I have no idea if this person realized they had “tipped my pot;” but nonetheless, my hurt feelings turned to anger. As I was about to kick the pot that had been tipped, thankfully, I gained my composure and picked up the dirt and tried to salvage what I was about to throw away.

The moral of the story? Just as I have a huge responsibility with caring for my flowers, more importantly, through my baptismal promises, I have been called to care for my spiritual welfare as well as the spiritual welfare of my fellow humans. I must not let hurt feelings and anger get in the way of what God is calling me to do. When the “squirrel tips the pot and dirt spills,” I must take a deep breath, say a prayer and put the dirt back in the pot and get myself back on the right path. I cannot let anyone or anything keep me from passionately tending to my “spiritual garden of life.” 

Humbly, let us pray, Lord, fill us with the grace to know what to do “when the squirrel tips the pot” and just as importantly, help us to see the error of our ways and make amends for those times when we do the same to others. Filled with your love, may our “spiritual garden of life” grow and flourish forever. Amen.

Brenda Hopf is a member of Divine Mercy Parish in Dubois County and also contributes to the “Sharing the Load” column in The Message.