Permission to dig in the candy stash always evokes in my kids tsunami-style mental, emotional, and physical responses. Wringing their sweaty palms, they squeal like leaking helium balloons and get this vacant, starry-eyed look of joy behind the eyes.
They are strange humans.
But this is how my soul feels about growing things in the dirt.
I’ve been pretending at a green thumb from the moment I was launched rather rudely out into the world. Filling dorm windows or box-sized apartment balconies with small pots of dying-brown this or thats, I’ve learned as much from killing the things as I have from begging them to life.
At my ripe age, I’ve been able to conquer a good deal I put my hands to, and for the ones I haven’t I’ve mostly convinced myself I can’t even care.
Captivated by these exotic, fussy beauties and knowing they could stay alive if they really wanted had me itching to get into this elite circle worse than the Yamboree Queen’s court back in my black and white days of high school.
I had heard tales of orchids re-growing and knew some people who had success at this and I assumed they were witches. And still? I keep buying the orchids, commit to the work with a half heart, and toss them in the dumpster a month later because it feels a little sad to have an empty pot with a lonely stick poking out of the dirt and also there’s laundry to be done.
And I just sigh and buy a replacement and am satisfied in a shallow way with the cheap results of temporary beauty.
Born fully half mule, in the late of summer last, I determined a particular orchid I kept in the kitchen that would not re-grow over my cold, dead body.
I took time to discover she liked a certain-facing window and prefers ice cubes to water and to be mostly ignored like a cat.
Was this unicorn-rare beauty with the countenance of a teenager even worth all this effort?
So I lived life and I kept putting ice cubes in on Tuesday and I left her where she needed to be and not where I personally would prefer to display her and I taxied the kids back and forth and back and forth and I cubed her and we had soccer practice and leftovers for dinner and I put one foot in front of the other for all the hours.
Until one day.
It was a Tuesday. And as I turned her pot to place a cube of ice, I saw it.
A new strong stem had broken through the root-bound moss and was holding a little fat-bulbed fist of victory in the air.
My palms got sweaty and I squealed a little like a leaky balloon and I got this vacant, starry-eyed look of joy behind my eyes.
And the immediate words my heart offered up to my head sounded a bit odd the first second…but none after that:
‘I am so glad I stayed.’
Something new had pushed right on up out of the dead and dry I had always left for somewhere beyond the stretch of hope and I was swept up and away on a wave of joy.
And the joy was more than worth my effort…which seemed small of a sudden.
Of course the way I reach, the orchids are never the thing and I see past this new-green root down to all the ways I could stay and tend the fussy and the delicate.
And what I might be missing if I didn’t.
I’m thinking of fragile family ties I have to hold in a particular window so it doesn’t burn the thing to its death or the Handle-With-Care nature of some good dreams I hold down deep that I under- or over-water on any day that’s been given. Everything from marriage and old wounds to even our unknown prejudice or judgments need careful attention for a new thing to find its way out of the dirt.
There is a steady heft in our hands to the hope in the waiting, yeah?
And for just one sweet minute I get it must be so don’t-blink-simple that we keep attending the small details and trust a process we can’t see with our own flesh eyes…that sometimes presents as an empty pot.
It mattered big as new life in a hidden window rather than a dumpster’s death to this small beauty I now hold in my hands.
I drink in long and deep this moment, the miracle of my eyes on top of this hope-grown fruit and I set the new-green orchid down, careful now, with a small little half-smile and I ask what I already know:
Isn’t that just a good sure faith?