The Hardy Marigold: Embracing our Dislikes

As a child I always hated marigolds. That orange color, the pungent smell, their little spiky leaves—nothing about them appealed to me. I can still picture the sparse little bursts of color in clay pots on our patio that, no matter how much we watered them, never grew into big vibrant flowers. A family down the street from us had a yard filled with an enormous, beautiful rose garden. In the heat of the summer day I would weave in between brilliant pink, deep red and luminous peach. I can still smell the pungent, sweet perfume of roses mixed with the smell of freshly cut grass—summer in Kansas at its best.

Four years ago when I moved into my office in Nederland I decided to add flower boxes to my windows. Each year I tried new plants, from succulents to petunias, depending on what input I received that year. I learned whatever gets planted in these boxes has to withstand searing sun, whipping wind, car exhaust, and heat reflecting off the concrete and blacktop (you’d think my office was in a big city!). Last year I chose a daisy that thrives in the hot African sun only to discover half way through the summer that our Colorado sun had burned the vibrant yellow flowers white. Last week as I was explaining all of this to a gardener he paused, looked over the options, and suggested I take a look at marigolds. “They’re hardy; they put up with all sorts of difficult conditions and, as long as you keep them watered, they’ll withstand the elements.”

Ironically, this is how the counseling process seems to work. Whatever we most dislike or whomever we’ve been trying to avoid, these are the people and situations that continue to surface in our lives. Instead of getting stuck on repeat maybe we could face our fear, turn towards the circumstance, and look for the lesson that lies within. When you drive by my office take a minute to look up at the flower boxes; they are filled to the brim with marigolds.