I recently heard a story that struck me deeply as I considered it in the context of my work here at Sunrise with both the students and their families.   Without further ado here is the tale as best as I can recall it:
A man was tending the checkout of his farm supply store when a customer approached him briskly and slammed down a packet of seeds on the counter demanding angrily “these seeds are defective, I want my money back!”  The proprietor quickly and courteously responded “Of course, of course.  I’d be happy to help you with that,” and began opening the till to process the refund.  He then inquired of the customer “Sir, do you mind if I ask you a few questions, so that I may be aware of the issue so as to remedy it in the future?”  The customer now content that he was receiving a refund nodded his head amicably.  “Did you plant the seeds in good soil rich with nutrients?”  The man responded that he had done so.  “Did you plant the seeds in patch of land that receives ample sunlight and rain?”  Yes, he had done this also.  “Did you regularly weed the patch where these seeds had been planted?”  The man, growing annoyed by such basic questions about his horticultural knowledge, nodded that he had indeed done all those things and added that the seeds still did not grow as they were advertised to.  The shopkeeper crinkled his brow in thought and asked if he might have one final question if the customer would oblige him.  The customer agreed with slight annoyance at the ongoing inquiry and motioned for the man to continue.  After a moment of pause the owner quietly searched “How long were these seeds in the ground?”  The customer quickly quipped back that he failed to see the relevance of this final question, he had done everything instructed him on the packet the seeds had come in.  He had planted the seeds in good ground with adequate sunlight.   He had provided needed moisture.   He had weeded the patch.   What more was he to do, he challenged hotly?!  The man at the register simply raised his eyebrows and pursed his lips as if to say “You didn’t answer the question.”   The customer looked off into the distance for an extended period of time seeming to intensely mull over this final question, and then responded quietly, and in a markedly calmer voice, that he had planted the seeds just two weeks prior…
The process of healing and growth requires time, and can often appear as if nothing is occurring at all, much like a seed planted prior to its beautiful emergence as a new green stalk.  For me this means that I have to fight a natural urge to have a “nice ending” in sessions despite having trod together through aversive and painful feelings and experiences with students and their families.  It is at these instances of seeming discord, dissonance, and stagnation, that I am mindful of the necessity of time in one’s process of growth, and the patience needed to effectively tolerate my anxieties, frustrations, and discouragements during that time.  A “nice ending” or progress onmy timetable is just that, mine, rather than the client’s.  I then have to exercise faith, faith in the interventions being utilized, faith in the client’s abilities and desire for change, and faith in myself that I can implement the chosen intervention effectively.
It is providential for all of us as clinicians, parents, and students that we do not need to rely entirely on faith, as the course of healing is well documented and researched.
Still, we will find moments where we are required to trust in one another as provider and client, and the process we are jointly engaging in.  It may look and feel incomplete and discouraging as a session ends without the resolution each of us would love to have.   Though we may not immediately or continually see what all of us are seeking for, healing and growth in your child, yourselves, and your families, it is imperative that we do not stop “watering, weeding, and fertilizing.”  Leave them seeds in the soil!
Written by Allen Richards, CSW, Therapist