Emotional strength and resilience don’t seem to be limitless in my own experience. I got to thinking about it as I walked home last night quite exhausted following a rather ordinary day.  I thought, too, of watering my garden with rain water next year, collected in rain barrels, very green friendly… the thinking got all jumbled up, and of course, a parable resulted from the cognitive disarray.

A rain barrel [image from lifehacker]

Consider the rain barrel.  Rain falls plentifully in some places, less so in others. Collecting rain water allows it to be used later, and applied where most needed – I would water my greenhouse with rain water.  If I set up my rain barrel well, and it collects water efficiently, and I have plentiful reserves, my garden remains lush and well-watered, nurtured and capable of supporting life.  The rain barrel must be open to receiving the water, and must also be able to contain it – to build a reserve.  If I set up the barrel to collect water, but I leave it open, too, at the bottom, so that the water is continuously used as soon as it is received, no water is stored, no reserves are built, and when a dry time comes and no rain falls, my garden is dry and at risk of dying, and unable to support lush and fertile life. Crops would be bitter and less flavorful.

Don’t our emotional reserves, the strength of our heart, and our ability to ‘bounce back’ work similarly? If I am constantly at war within myself, or having to buoy loved ones in times of personal turmoil, with no support for myself, my own heart, my own needs, without taking time to ‘refill my rain barrel’, I become bitter, exhausted, and unable to support life. The very real personal rewards to growth and change are powerful, and capable of nurturing my heart on a profound level – unless I am unable to rise beyond constantly ‘spending my savings’, using the rainwater as it comes, instead of building stored reserves for dryer times.

Today I will love well.  Today I give myself as much compassion as I show others. Today I will also take care of me.