By Eleanor Mendoza Whitney
Great storms have passed through our local hills, and in their wake they have left mud, fallen branches and general mess. Walking the paths is a bit more challenging, but as the puddles begin to dry, in the dark, damp earth I notice budding wild mushrooms. They are everywhere! They make funny shapes as they squeeze close together under trees and stretch out in large clumps.
Did you know that mushrooms are only the fruit of a great underground network of fungus mycelium (tiny threads)? The real “body” of the fungus stays under the ground, weaving and building, until the circumstances are just right up above the dirt and then – mushrooms!
Lately, I have had the honor to do some teaching in a spiritual direction training program. Seeing eager students ready to try new skills of listening, reflecting and discerning reminded me of my time in seminary. It also reminded me that I didn’t arrive at seminary (or at any given day) without a mycelium-like network of loving people guiding and nourishing me. They encouraged me and showed me the way. They taught me that I could do more than I thought I could do. Like the mushrooms, much of their support was invisible and my life would not be the same without them.
Who has done that for you? Who educated you in a way that gave you direction in your life? Perhaps they taught you a skill or perhaps you simply learned from their way of being. Maybe you didn’t notice it, but at some point, you could see the effect or “fruit” of their presence in your life.
Around my hills, the winter rains will soon give way to summer sun and the mushrooms will disappear. Yet their fungal network will continue operating beneath the surface, waiting for the next opportunity to “mushroom.” In your own life, could there be an invitation for you to reach out to some of those who have taught you and say, “thank you”?