Remember the Bonsai: Patience, Small Improvements, and Invisible Labor

My husband and I enjoyed a beautiful day at Longwood Gardens. I found myself returning several times to the bonsai display of azaleas.

When you see the magnificent blooms here, know they represent sometimes 60 years of training (if not more). While I only observed a select number of bonsai (since the display was under renovation), I’ve heard you can enjoy a bonsai tree from 1900 as well as a miniature pomegranate tree that grows real pomegranates.

I stand and marvel at these beautiful trees. I think of the gardener gently pruning for a lifetime. I think of the art of bonsai: the trimming, the shaping, the cutting, and the binding. I think of the patience. I think, too, how one goal of bonsai involves what’s called “no trace of the artist.” A viewer should not notice or even be able to detect at all any external cutting or shaping that would leave a scar. It’s an art where the artist disappears to let the tree’s beauty shine.

The goal of the bonsai artist: invisibility.

All day I think about those trees.

Bonsai: patience, small improvements, and invisible labor. 

I think of so many things in life that require patience and gentle care. I think of the invisible labor in marriage, parenting, and in keeping a home. Day after day, you craft a life. You make small changes. You prune and shape.

Stand back and observe the beauty. Yes, it’s invisible labor and years and years of patient work. The blooms might not even appear in your lifetime. The finished product and the fruit of your labor may come in 100 years. But one day, indeed, the blooms come. In God’s perfect timing, and in the hand of the Bonsai Master, they come.


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