During this past long weekend, there was one more place I had gone to. Why I went there, I will scribble on another day, but I will let you have a peek at where it was:
A lovely lotus pond near where I live…. sorry, I went in the afternoon, by which time lotus flowers had already finished closing up for the day!
Lotuses are plants that grow in muddy water. It is said that the muddier the water, the larger and more beautiful flowers they bloom. Indeed, their flowers appear pure and serene, in strong contrast to the down and dirty waters beneath! From this observation came a well-known phrase “out from mud but never muddied” [my translation] in an old Chinese writing called (what else?!) “On the Love of Lotus.”
My people have interpreted this phrase to mean, together with the knowledge that lotus and its flower symbolize purity and spiritual perfection in Buddhism, that you grow stronger and better through difficulties and hardships… a little bit like the English saying “what does not break you will make you stronger,” I guess.
Maybe that is true.
Maybe, if you have as sturdy a stem as lotuses do to stand tall even without support.
But maybe some of us are just not that strong by nature, or we have times we simply cannot hold ground.
Maybe sometimes, we so desperately want and need protection and guidance when facing difficulties and hardships.
Well, maybe lotuses have been a bit too glorified. Yes, when we see them, they often appear strong and beautiful. But just like us, there are some that are, for whatever reason, not so strong at some point in time. What do these vulnerable ones do?
They seek asylum under the leaves of others, like this one.
Maybe it will stay here until its stem becomes sturdy enough to stand tall.
And maybe while it is there, it will find a gemstone in the rough a lot closer than expected.
I wonder if you can see a tiny water droplet that has formed on the leaf nearby?
Apparently, lotus leaves have super-hydrophobic surface, meaning they are highly resistant to water and make waterdrops bead up, like in the photo above. What is more, the droplets pick up small particles of dirt as they roll off, and thereby serve as cleaning vehicles – a phenomenon named the “lotus effect.”
So, maybe not all lotuses are strong all the time.
Nevertheless, they all have the potential to bloom large and beautiful flowers, with a built-in ability to self-clean and turn dirt into gem.
And maybe that is what we all have in us as well… the lotus effect in you and me.
I will not tell you to stay strong through difficulties and hardships – how can I, when I know I cannot be? Instead, I hope you and I will keep our lotus effect activated to bead them up, so that when we roll them off, they will have turned into gems that make our life a little more glorious. I think that is just as important as being strong and standing tall.