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“Any deep relationship to another human being requires watchfulness and nourishment; otherwise, it is taken from us” (Paul Tillich).
THINGS THAT ARE PHYSICALLY ALIVE NEED NOURISHMENT OR ELSE THEY DIE. Most of us, somewhere along the way, have neglected a houseplant or two and seen the sad results. But there are some intangible things that need nourishment too, such as our relationship with those around us. Our relationships with other people may not need physical nutrients (although there’s a lot to be said for eating good food with good friends), but they do need emotional and spiritual nourishment. And the consequences of malnourished relationships are far sadder than the loss of any physically living thing.
Relationships need to be fed huge helpings of love and appreciation and concern. They also need the nourishment that comes from time and energy and service. And above all, of course, love itself needs to be nourished. “Love is a tender plant; when properly nourished, it becomes sturdy and enduring, but neglected it will soon wither and die” (Hugh B. Brown). The love, however, that usually needs to be nourished is not the love that others have for us but our love for them. It’s a selfish mistake to make our relationships totally dependent on the quality of love that other people show to us. Without being condescending or patronizing, we can grow better relationships by nourishing the love we show to them. Amazing transformations in relationships can take place when we feed the affection that’s in our own hearts (or even used to be there), regardless of the immediate response.
Wouldn’t it be a fine thing to be known as somebody who nurtures and nourishes, rather than somebody who depletes and destroys? Indeed it would, and in truth, that’s a reputation that’s within the reach of every person on the planet. Many things we may not be able to do, but we can be people who nourish our friends and neighbors.
Nourishment never goes out of style. There’ll never be a time when it’s not needed. The more we nourish those who cross our path, the more they’ll enjoy being nourished. It’s an everyday opportunity, really, and a lifelong privilege. Let’s not miss the pleasure of it.
“The more the heart is nourished with happiness, the more it is insatiable” (Gabrielle Roy).