I did not learn about plants from my mother. When I’d ask her if she knew the name of a flower, she’d look at what I was holding and declare, “I know a daisy and a rose.” And that was that. We didn’t have houseplants or flower gardens when I was growing up. My mother didn’t have the time, energy or inclination to acquire or care for something she knew she’d have to leave behind as we moved across the world.
Because of that, I do not take responsibility for having a black thumb most of my adult life. Until I was in my fifties, I really didn’t care about plants and I felt they were unnecessary since we moved a lot. However, when Bud’s mom and my dad passed away a few years apart, I really wanted to keep some of their funeral plants alive. Caring about those plants changed my mindset, so I started to learn.
One thing I had to learn is that location matters. Our house has a big window on the north and a big window on the south but it has no window suitable for plants on the east or the west. This means that every spring and every fall I have to move my plants to the side of the house that gets the sunshine. It’s a pain.
We don’t have pets because we travel but, if we did, we could take them to a kennel. As far as I know, there are no plant kennels. So, we water our little plants before we go, arrange for them to be watered while we are gone and pray they survive.
Our last trip was longer than usual and, despite doing what we had always done before, the plants looked pretty sorry when we got home. The soil was bone dry and the leaves of the Prayer Plant looked like brown tissue paper.
I watered everything right away and waited. Eventually, the Prayer Plant produced one small leaf, but it was only half the size of what it should have been. That’s when I realized it needed more than just water. It needed food.
My plants were stressed and, over the three weeks since we’ve been home, I have fussed over them daily to make sure they come back to a vibrant life.
Then, one day it hit me: Like my plants, I am withered too. There’s been Covid, on top of health issues, on top of travel, on top of responsibilities at home, on top of serious concerns for family and friends, on top of pressures in my advocacy work. BUT – have I assessed how I am doing during these difficult times with the same concern I’ve shown my plants? Have I invested as much energy and care in replenishing my soul as I have invested in rejuvenating my plants? Have my cares clogged the springs of Living Water that Jesus promised would spring up within me? Is my spirit malnourished because I’ve neglected God’s Word?
I’ve read articles about the health benefits of gardening and tending to plants. Along with bringing me joy and reminding me of those I’ve loved who are now in heaven, I’m thankful that my plants taught me a lesson this week about spiritual things and challenged me to “. . . be on guard so you will not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever.” 2 Peter 3:17-18