Los Angeles Chapter  California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists

Los Angeles Chapter — CAMFT

Guest Article

07/31/2021 12:30 PM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

Catherine Auman,

Madison’s Apple Tree

Madison is as wide eyed as any child has ever been watching her seedling push its way up out of the Styrofoam cup. Like many kindergarten kids in America, her class has planted apple seeds and is waiting for them to grow. The children tend the plants lined up on the windowsill, learning that they require water, sunlight, and tender loving care. The students are taught about photosynthesis and the making of chlorophyll. Mostly, they learn about patience—that grow-ing things take their own time no matter how much we might like to rush them. 

When the experiment is over, Madison takes the cup home, and her dad offers to plant the tiny treasure. Outside the classroom environment, the little tree is fragile and helpless, sitting beside the driveway near a clump of bushes. It could easily be run over by the lawnmower, or dogs, or somebody clumsily getting out of a car. The new-born little shoot needs protection, so Madison’s dad puts a wire cage around it, the kind he uses for tomatoes. Once the plant are sturdy, he will remove the support and it will stand on its own. 

People who are in intense periods of personal growth often need similar protection. When someone has had success clearing out a major piece of old baggage, or is in shock at encountering unexpected trauma, s/he is raw, and a new way of seeing, of being, is growing in them. This newness is a good thing, but the sprout is vulnerable, untested, and in need of shielding to ensure its continued growth. 

Because in this culture we are expected to be always happy and chipper, we lack the understanding that at certain times of life it is okay and even preferable to retreat for a while behind a wall of safety. This might mean staying in instead of going out; only hanging out with gentle, nurturing people instead of people who won’t understand; special self-care such as getting massages, eating comfort foods, listening to chill music, or being in silence. We learn to appreciate that personal growth is a process that will take its own time no matter how much we might like to rush it, and that in the beginning it is fragile and needs to be protected against the outside world. Madison’s sweet little apple tree needs protection while it is growing, and precious human beings do too.

© 2021 Catherine Auman

Catherine Auman, LMFT is a licensed therapist with advanced training in both traditional and spiritual psychology with over thirty years of successful professional experience helping thousands of clients. She has headed nationally based psychiatric programs as well as worked through alternative methodologies based on ancient traditions and wisdom teachings. Visit her online at catherineauman.com.

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