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The Fertile Ground of Shattered Dreams

May 19, 2010

Our beautiful maple tree lies in pieces on our front lawn, as the blossom laden magnolia looks on. This magnificent tree had its home in the very center of our front yard. I watched as it grew from a tiny sapling to a large, spreading beauty that garnered the attention of strangers and their cameras each fall. I loved this tree and spent many hours studying its shape and texture from my office window as I contemplated the words I was putting on a page. It was a silent friend and constant companion, but the drought of the last several years took its toll and now it is gone.

It has been difficult for me to enjoy the nearby magnolia this year as I usually do. Its tremendous white blossoms bathe all who pass by in its luscious scent.  I have not cut a single blossom for our foyer to fill our house with its aroma. My heart is heavy from my loss and my focus and energy is still required in the cleanup effort. I must put things in order, remove the debris before it kills the grass and pile the wood for fuel for winter.

Life is full of such experiences, and while the loss of a tree is a rather minor loss, it is a loss none the less an example of what is required to survive even greater losses. Our dreams are much like my beloved maple tree. They do not always last as long as we would like them to or grow as big and luscious as anticipated. Sometimes our dreams end up in a heap on the ground. Like the maple and the magnolia, while one dream lies dead and in pieces on the ground ~ gone for good ~ another different, but just as magnificent dream waits in the background.  Before we can take hold of a new dream, we must mourn our loss, grieve what has passed, and put our house in order.

There is a season and a time for fulfilling each dream and a time for laying them to rest. We do not always want to let go, especially if we thought our dream would live forever and we did not consider the day it would be gone.  Going through the steps of letting go of a dream that has died will ready the ground for the roots of the new one to take hold.

If you have lost a dream and it is lying in pieces around you, you have a choice. You can sit amongst the wreckage, refusing to let go, as the wood rots and the grass beneath it dies, or you can get to work cleaning up the debris and stacking the wood neatly in a pile to keep you warm in winter. The grieving process is a necessary part of moving on and one that we cannot avoid. Undertaking the clean up process provides the time and opportunity to heal. Focused on a practical task often helps our sorrow find its way to the surface and our tears to flow. If we give our sadness expression and not try to bury it or trap it inside to fester, we can begin to heal.

Lost dreams and shattered hopes generate the wisdom we need to meet our next challenge. When one dream dies, the lessons we have learned remain intact and they will be there to help us bring the next dream to fruition.  In all of life’s transitions, it is important to give ourselves time to mourn and time to reorder our lives, before we begin again. Too often we try to skip over the sorrow and the unpleasant work, but that only leaves our hearts heavy and our brains foggy.

If you are struggling to put your life together after a dream has been shattered, and it does not seem to be working, consider giving yourself more time to mourn, more time to heal and putting your practical life in order.  Your next dream will be there when you are ready, just as the magnolia will be there for me to enjoy next spring, and if it is not, the dogwood will be.

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