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Bloom where you’re planted

May 17, 2023
Blessed Solanus Casey
Summer photograph of the exterior of the Solanus Casey Center and the creation garden. Day lillies are in full bloom in the foreground. The garden appears lush and verdant.

By Sally McCuen, Hospitality Coordinator, Solanus Casey Center

“Bloom Where You’re Planted” was a Reverend Carey Landry song often played at Mass in the late 1970s. Recently, the wisdom conveyed in that title popped up in a conversation I had with one of our regular visitors at the Solanus Casey Center.

“Live the way I was designed,” Sidney said as a summary to his life’s philosophy. Sidney Davis comes to the Center to pray most days. As a victim of an auto accident when he was a toddler, Sidney struggles with physical challenges along the right side of his body. One might think that Sidney would be bitter about the current design of his body, but after talking with him, one would know that is furthest from the truth. Many job opportunities are not an option for Sidney, yet he has found a spectacular way to find meaning and purpose in his life. He is a prayer warrior. Many people see Sidney in the chapel and approach him with requests for his prayers. He quietly nods and takes their requests. His strength is a deep prayer life and faith in God. He plays to his strengths.

In the business world utilizing an employee’s strength is part of the strategy for a successful enterprise. Many organizations take part in programs designed to identify a person’s strengths. A program named Strength Finders, offers a lengthy questionnaire to highlight a person’s five top strengths from a pool of 34. Underpinning this desire to learn one’s strength is the fact that the results from fine tuning and utilizing our strengths has a greater impact on our success than spending time and energy trying to improve weak areas. Effort and energy used to overcome weakness yield little progress, while maximizing one’s strengths and honing up on one’s talents yield bountiful outcomes.

Fr. Solanus certainly bloomed where he was planted, lived the way he was designed, and played to his strengths. As a porter at St. Bonaventure Monastery, Fr. Solanus became known far and wide for his skills of listening and helping people recognize God’s presence in their lives. His academic progress was slow and difficult. He was not designed to be a great academic, and no matter how he tried to improve the outcome of his grades, his progress appeared stunted. His strength, however, was his confident faith in God’s goodness and his ability to convey that to the many people who came seeking his help. It was a perfect convergence of being exactly where he was with the gifts and talents that he had. It was God who brought all those conditions together.

In our own lives, God is at work aligning our placement with our gifts and strengths for the betterment of ourselves and the world. Using our gifts and strengths bring joy. We find a sense of meaning and purpose. Living the way we are designed is such helpful advice. Trusting that God places us where we need to be only adds to the awe that fills our life.

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