Wednesday, August 5, 2009


I'm a notorious plant murderer. I can't help it. No plant is safe in my vicinity. My mother in law had a grass green thumb and my dad is a master at coaxing tomatoes and basil from the earth. I imagine a wanted poster hanging in every greenhouse from here to Pennsylvania, warning all gardeners to be on the look out for the nefarious plant killer.

For Mother's Day I asked for (yes, I asked for), two hanging pots of flowers to put in front of the house. My children and husband looked apprehensive. Their eyes searched my face for clues that I was joking. I told you I had a reputation. But they acquiesced and bought the plants. I can't even tell you what they are, but they are fairly common little flowers, in purple and white, my favorite colors. They went right outside onto my little flower stand that I hadn't used since I brought a geranium to its knees in 2004.

I watered them, and the kids enjoyed helping. We bought a little watering can. We left it outside right by the flowers. We watched them and watered them. And the pretty purple flowers began to shrivel. They turned brown. Their stems looked dried up and puny. I watched them die a slow and painful death. When we poured water into the pot, it streamed right out the bottom, its soil was so hard. But I couldn't throw it away. The poor dead Mother's Day plant smacked of failure. Putting that mass of sad leaves in the trash would signal my complete ineptitude.

The pot sat on the picnic table in the backyard, taunting me all summer long with its brown limbs and cracked earth. Every time I looked at it, a part of my gasped with despair.


Last week, as I sat at the kitchen table, drinking my coffee and surveying the scene of the backyard, I caught a glimpse of purple in my peripheral vision. Wha? I'm used to brown out there, not purple. A closer inspection revealed that in fact, my dead plant had resurrected itself. There were new shoots and blooms springing crazily out of the dead dry soil. As if the plant did not accept dying. As if it didn't understand dead plants don't regrow.

Lately, I've been feeling a little like that "dead" plant. My roots can't get enough water and my blossoms have faded. I haven't had the energy to turn my face toward the sun and I'm waving the white flag. Just this morning, I was shaking my fist at God and all His people whose lives seem to be falling right into perfect place while I seemingly spin my wheels looking for a way out that won't reveal itself. The house is falling apart, school fees are overwhelming and it just seems too much.

After my little pity party ended, I marched that plant back out front, to the flower hanger, with it's blossoming white friend. They looked so cheery and purposeful. So resolute in their return to life. That plant reminded me to hope. That plant wasn't dead. Some old dead bits needed to be removed and the new growth isn't all big and showy. But it's brave, and new, and tender, and...there. And I will rise again and there will be a solution and my roots will be refreshed and I will be ready for the next heat wave.

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