No Mud, No Lotus

A quizzical expression came across the face of my ten-year old as she read my new t-shirt.

“Do you know what a lotus is?” I asked.

“No” she replied.

“Remember that little pond down the road, where those huge, beautiful flowers come up every year?”

She nodded, “Oh, yes!”

“Those are lotus flowers. They grow out of the mud. So, the expression, No Mud, No Lotus means that beautiful things can come from unpleasant things. Without the ‘mud’ the beautiful lotus flower could not come to be.”

She looked at me for a second and said, “You mean, you think mud is bad? I love mud.”

Hmmm.

Once again I marvel at how children’s perspectives are so incredibly, and often unintentionally, insightful.

No Mud, No Lotus.

An expression meant to remind us that we must endure or tolerate hard things in order for beautiful things to come forth.

But…

What if we could think of the hard things as beautiful too?

What if we could learn to love the mud?

I know, it’s a hard thing to accept, especially when your “mud” might be not only hard, but incredibly painful. How can we think of something painful as beautiful?

I guess it requires the ability to look past what you’ve lost. Maybe loss has inspired you to love more fiercely, to take risks, to be brave, to express yourself like you never have before, to slow down, to savor, to pray, to be present, to take stock, to reevaluate, to cherish, to listen to yourself..?

In my work at a nature-oriented preschool, we let the children play in the mud. We have outdoor mud kitchens just for this purpose, actually. Not only do the children play so creatively in the mud, but they also learn through play, gaining valuable skills. When parents remark at the end of the day about their children being particularly messy – or muddy – I sometimes will say, “That’s a sure sign of a great day!” Or, admittedly cheekily, “Good thing she’s washable!”

So, what if we begin to think of our lives as a sort of “mud kitchen”?  At a minimum, we will probably learn something while we’re mucking about. Perhaps, we can begin to appreciate the mud. Maybe we can even enjoy it, somehow.

In the end, it’s good to remember we are all washable, though this may take a bit of time and effort sometimes.

And of course, there is always the lotus – a perennial reminder that like it or not, sometimes the mud is necessary to bring forth something of remarkable beauty.

Perhaps, that something beautiful is you.

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