Reaching for the Light

© 2014 Lilly Penhall

When plants are grown in an indoor environment, away from their natural outdoor element, lights and fans are both installed in the grow rooms. Light, for obvious reasons, is essential for the plant’s growth as it provides the energy needed for photosynthesis to occur.Without light, the plants would not grow at all; seeds would never sprout, and plants that are already grown would wither and die.Plants instinctively reach for the light and, when the concentrated energy of artificial lights is their source of energy, the plants will sometimes grow tall very rapidly to soak up as much energy as possible.

The reason for the fans has everything to do with the light. Not only does the breeze provided by fans circulate and cool the air surrounding the plants so they don’t get overheated by the high temperatures resulting from the intense lighting, but they have a second purpose as well.

When the sprouts start growing tall very quickly, their stalks aren’t thick enough to support the weight of the budding leaves and branches, and eventually the fruit itself. The fan serves to strengthen the stalk of the plant by essentially blowing it over and breaking the structure of the cells over and over so that they are forced to repair themselves and, as a result, growing new cells which strengthen the stalk. It seems counter intuitive to break something to make it stronger, but that’s exactly what has to happen.

The stronger the stalk, the bigger the leaves and branches can grow because the plant has the strength to support it. The fruits are larger and more abundant as well. Just as the butterfly has to struggle to break free from the cocoon in order to have the strength to fly, this is another way that nature shows us that the strong forces of opposition serve to strengthen us and make us more fruitful.

Maybe this is why many people who experience trauma and brokenness at a young age grow to be incredible individuals. Coming from the darkness, they reach for the light in a desperate attempt to grow closer to it, but growing tall isn’t enough. They have to be knocked down and broken over and over again in order to strengthen their core, so that over time they will be able to withstand the strong winds, and in fact grow more fruitful in spite of them. What seemed like a hurricane to a little sprout is nothing but a gentle breeze to a mature, fruit-bearing plant.

Victims of childhood trauma often grapple with the question,“Why?” Why did this happen to me? Why did I deserve to be abused when I was just an innocent child? Why did I have to go through so much hardship?

The orphan who was dumped into the foster care system can cook and clean up after himself, while the child of privilege may not even be able to do their own laundry. The person who has spent time homeless is definitely more resourceful than the heiress. When the season of reaping comes, the gardener knows which plants thrive: those who were strengthened while they reached for the light, in order to prepare them for their purpose of growing abundant fruit.

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