Our green beans are pole beans. That means they like to climb. When they outgrew their trellis, I went to the woods and found a very long cedar branch and propped it up by the beans. Since then, all eight of the bean plants climbed up that branch and headed skyward. The vines ended up all tangled at the end of that 10 foot tall pole! While it kept the beans growing upward and out of the rest of the garden, it has made harvesting beans a real challenge – like, I have had to get on a ladder to reach most of the beans.
But lately, the pole has begun to sag and bend under the weight of the bean vines. Now, it’s a matter of getting under the beans and strapping on a search image for bean pods amid the multitude of greenery. It ain’t easy…a bit like an Easter egg hunt…but just as rewarding! This morning as I was peering up through the foliage in search of green beans, I had an epiphany of sorts. Success in finding the beans was all based on my perspective. If I angled my head one way or another, moved a foot to one side, looked sideways, up, down, or parted the leaves just so, I’d find a whole new bunch of beans to pick. In order to be a successful green bean picker, I had to change my position, my perspective.
What a life lesson that is! Even the beans can teach us.
Now, I’ve written about perspective several times before (See here, here, and here, if you’re interested), so I’m no stranger to the idea of changing a point of view, but it struck me so hard this morning that with this election coming up and with all the animosity and stress related to the pandemic and all the heartache and misunderstanding surrounding racial and social justice right now, being willing and able to change perspectives might just be the key to solving some of our biggest issues of these times. When we dig in and refuse to move from our own points of view, we bury any opportunities for connecting to, understanding, empathizing with, or finding common ground with those who see life from a different angle.
If I stood in one place and never moved from that spot and just got angry at the green beans for not being visible, I’d lose out on the reward of having fresh beans for dinner. If my life depended on eating those beans, I’d starve. Now, I know this may seem like a silly idea or unlikely place to find an analogy, but that’s what spoke to me today in my bean patch, and I thought it might be worth sharing.
The same lesson came again as I looked for caterpillars on the milkweeds. I couldn’t see them all from just one perspective. I had to move myself in order to find all the beauties there.
I’d have missed out on seeing them if I’d been unwilling to bend down a little further or turn my head a new direction. What are we missing out on by refusing to see some big issues from a different point of view? What might happen if – one by one – each of us approached every person in our lives with the purposeful action of seeing life from their perspective for a few moments? What if we turn our heads and minds enough to see ourselves from their perspectives? What would we see? What would we learn? How might we change?
Is it worth a try – even for one day?
Will the change in perspective feed us and make us stronger and healthier, like the green beans?