New friends brought this lovely blooming plant; as soon as it was hung in back yard, a hummingbird was checking it out. I soon grew accustomed to watering it morning and evening in the triple-digit sunny West Texas summer, and greatly enjoyed both its colorful flowers and the hummers which flutter around it. A quart of water is sufficient most days, but on the hottest it needs another cup or two.
Then we were out of town for a couple of days, and (despite extra water before leaving) we came back to a very wilted plant in bone-dry dirt. I watered it carefully that evening, and gave it another quart three times the next day. And the next. It was mid-morning of that day before the poor plant began to perk up. And for the next few days I found it needed almost twice as much water as it had before, despite the fact that the weather was cooler, and somewhat cloudy.
You see, the attention and nourishment needed by the healthy plant was only a fraction of what was required by the same plant after even a brief period of neglect.
Is it not the same with people?
A person who is healthy (physically, emotionally, and spiritually) doesn’t require much attention. Children, of course, need daily encouragement, expressions of love, and nurture because they are growing and learning who they are and how to relate to the world. If they don’t get what they need to grow and be healthy, then far more care and attention will be needed to make up the deficit. And too many children in our society are living with a deficit. Perhaps food insecurity (too little nutrition to develop physically); perhaps an unsafe environment (and the stress of living in fear as well as possible injuries); perhaps neglect (and all the scars of feeling unloved, even when their home appears to have security); perhaps without anyone able & willing to listen to their questions, train their consciences, and help them develop the character traits needed to thrive.
A child who has been neglected, even for a little while, needs much more love and attention to make up the deficit than would have been needed had care been constant and sufficient. That needy person whom you find so irritating is probably suffering from long neglect. Like the plant that was left to drought almost to the point of death, some people need extra love and encouragement just to make it through another day. What might be unnecessary to someone blessed with abundance of care may mean life or death to the spirit of one near starvation.
Let us be kind to one another, patient, and tenderhearted. May we be willing to provide water and nourishment for the souls of those around us. And let us take care that those closest to us not suffer neglect which we could remedy.