There was a particular place that she wanted to go to. It couldn’t just be a store that sold many things, but one that only focused their attention on what she was looking for. It’s not something I would pursue because of bad experiences, but she often pushes me past my resistance to trying something again.
I didn’t want to take on another responsibility with all the others that I already had. So my idea was to go with her but not buy anything.
As I drove there, I tried to keep quiet and not think about how many other times I had done this, which led to failure.
“Have you read about how to do this? You know what you are doing?”
Of course she had because she’s smarter than I am.
We walked across the icy parking lot with an intense winter wind whipping, slapping us across the face. The double doors opened, and warm air surrounded us.
Sunlight streamed in, and it was as if we had gone from the Antarctic to a tropical island with plants of all shapes, colors, and variations. There wasn’t anything that I couldn’t kill from the very tiniest to taller than me. This is why I didn’t want to come in the first place. There was a long list of casualties on my record of house plants not making it very long no matter how closely I followed all the rules or not.
“I want to look at the orchids,” she said.
I had never had one of those, so she was on her own with that. Let the blood of the innocent be on her hands this time.
As we looked at them, I saw instructions sticking up, printed on a card:
Place one ice cube in soil three times per week.
“An ice cube? I don’t get it.”
Where we live, the cold instantly takes the life of any outdoor plant, so now, we were to put ice on our indoor plants? That sounded like someone who had murdered growing things like me; get it over with.
Throw a bag of ice on that, and call it good, that I could do.
I looked into it further, and it was actually a way to make sure it was getting enough water without it draining out. It’s a slow release of hydration instead of one big blast.
When a salesperson came over, I asked her if it was effective.
“I wouldn’t do it. It’s a trend now. Dipping the container in water works best.”
She chose the one she wanted, and I did not believe it would make it until spring, but I knew she had to try.
We looked around, and I overheard a lady trying to figure out what to buy.
This is not a quick decision. You have to think about where you will place it concerning how light comes into your house. Does it need direct sunlight, partial or a completely dark room?
“I have a couch I can move over,” I heard her say to her friend.
If you have to remodel to take in one plant, it might be a good idea to forget it because, with my experience, you can put in an extraordinary amount of care, and they will callously keel over without a second thought.
It always starts with the withered look and leaves that lose their sheen. Then it gradually goes downhill into yellowing and pieces falling off. At first, I always try to revive the situation. I start by removing what has died to be sure all the nutrients are going toward what is left living. I test the soil for dryness, or is it damp? Maybe new dirt would help, and a little plant food.
I walk away knowing I have given it the best care, and I am highly hopeful it will make a comeback because I have applied the detailed advice of a botanist I found online. But by morning, it’s deceased. It just totally checks itself out without even saying goodbye.
I can’t handle that kind of rejection over and over.
So while there looking with her, I had decided not to open up my heart to be crushed by another that for no reason would die. That was until I saw something that I had not considered before.
They had them in clear vases with decorative rock and no soil. This meant no guessing whether they had enough water or not. When I saw them displayed, Chinese New Year had just started, so next to them was a list of all the good luck they could bring me, depending on how many stalks I put together.
With my horrible track record of keeping anything alive past a week, it would need the luck, not me.
One stalk seemed lonely. It had nothing to do with bad fortune. Two represented love, or that good things come in pairs. Three of them meant happiness and a new beginning. Four was not to mess with because it denoted death. We had already had enough of that.
I settled on five because it looked decent and wasn’t overwhelming like the suggested 888 of them.
After saying I would purchase nothing, I brought them home and crossed all my fingers. These, I was told, were difficult to destroy. They hadn’t met me.
The first year, all was well. My five grew somewhat and were not that much of a bother. Her orchid worried me as it stayed the same, with no flowers.
The second year, I ran into trouble and had to move three out of my five into their own vase.
“Why are they not with the rest?” She asked me.
“They look a little sick. And I read online if they have something wrong, it can spread to the others.” The remaining two were flourishing.
So I quarantined the unhealthy and it turned into hospice.
“I read that this can happen,” she said, trying to make me feel better. “They just don’t make it as long.”
And they didn’t.
Her orchid stayed the same, and I wondered if it had died but looked alive.
“Is yours okay?” I asked.
“I don’t know.”
“It’s been two years, and it doesn’t look any different than the day you bought it.”
She let it be, and I saw my two start growing more.
If mine made it past the two-year mark, I found out that it could reach five feet.
At nearly three years, my two were inching upward more and more. I guess I was destined to have a pair that would bring more love into my life. The initial five promised me wealth, but 1 Corinthians 13:2 says there is something more significant:
And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.(ESV)
Sometimes, you have to lose something to trade up.
The other day I asked her again,
“Is your orchid doing okay? It looks the same as when you bought it three years ago.”
She got out potting soil and a larger container. After all this time, I wondered if this disruption would bring too much trauma. That’s the risk that is run when you move something that has gotten its roots down and is locked into a place that it has been for a long time.
I walked past it the next day, and it had doubled in size.
“Did you see your plant?”
I think she expected me to tell her it had croaked.
When she looked at it, she was just as surprised as I was to see it spread out so much in its new home.
“You aren’t supposed to replant them for three years.”
“Really? That’s such a long time.”
To be honest, I thought maybe she had neglected it for too long. But, she had read that this was the perfect time to give it a larger space to expand. Every day, it seems to fill out more, seeming to enjoy the room to grow.
In the same way, when the constricting limitations are removed from a person’s life, it ushers in peace and joy that wasn’t there before. Adapting to a new way of living always comes with uncertainty, but God promises to be with you through each step, guiding and protecting you.
In John 15:5 it says:
I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me, you can do nothing. (NIV)
This speaks to the idea that a life sworn over into the hands of God is not your own.
If you want heaven to make good use of you, increase your influence, heal the hurting and fulfill a mission on earth, you have to be willing to go through a transplant.