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Growth and Gutters

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Beth Anstandig

I look for interesting places of growth, for the ways that nature replenishes and flourishes in odd locations. My most recent discovery was in the gutter of an old shed. As usual, it was just the practice of a walkabout, looking around, looking up, slowing down, and there it was, a whole ecosystem blooming in the gutter. Moss and grass glowing the brightest green. What a treasure!

The irony was not lost. Growth in the gutter. I know all too well what it’s like to grow in the gutter. My most important growth has come from hitting rock bottom. And while it certainly isn’t fun in the moment, it’s fertile ground for looking at oneself and simply having nowhere else to go. Gutters are a bit that way. They trap a collection of ingredients and the trap itself encourages growth–containment, moisture, warmth, a crucible for transformation.

We don’t like it when it’s happening to us! But the corners we find ourselves in really do squeeze us into becoming something new. It isn’t always good though. We can devolve in those corners and behave like a trapped animal, fighting our way out. Or we can evolve into better versions of ourselves. I suppose a lot of that depends on just how many times we have been in the gutter and just how inspired we are to grow ourselves out.

What has your gutter growth looked like? How has rock bottom served you well? Are there any places in your life where you feel trapped? Is there a way to grow yourself out of that trapped spot?

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