I was having a conversation with my mother-in-law, aka Hunney…aka Judith…about life and health and responsibility and such…she has a mass amount of land that requires her attention and during the course of our chat I told her Kurt mentioned us growing a garden. Funny. As keen as the idea seems, I am the last person I know that needs to try and keep a plant alive…much less a garden.
I apologize to plants as I tote them home…thinking maybe…just maybe…THIS time I’ll do something right and they will hang around and make like John Travolta and stay alive. I rarely leave Trader Joe’s without herbs. I know our relationship will be shorter than a southern cold spell but I buy them anyway. After putting the groceries away and planning meals around my zesty new friends, I gingerly place them in a mason jar and rub the leaves between my thumb and index finger… emitting the sweet aroma of mint, basil, cilantro and lemon balm….ahhhhh….I’m so Ree Drummond sometimes. Pioneerish and capable of surviving off the land. It’s just another day at the county fair for me as I rustle up some biscuits from scratch and spatchcock our former pet chicken for deep frying. I’m so born for this….
As I type these words I have zero sign of fresh herbs in my house and a dead pot of what was once geraniums on my front porch. Crusty leaves of brown and beige atop cracked soil next to a watering can that symbolized hope. I have super good intentions. I really do. After painting our front door a welcoming shade of buttery yellow I bought the bright red blossoms as an accent piece that would welcome guests across the threshold of our house. For a good week or two I watered this plant with care and consideration of its dependency on me for life…I hoped my neighbors saw me out there tending my container garden and found inspiration in their own souls to nurture the land we’ve been given.
Then this happened.
We went out of town. The morning sun blazes just enough light that overtime, without enough moisture, will apparently suck the life out of a pot of geraniums. As we drove out of town I gave my front porch one last prideful glance knowing I’d seen the last of those perky red blossoms. I didn’t ask a neighbor to care for it or remove it from the sunny spot to a safer refuge…nope…that would have taken 2 minutes. Nope. I left it there parched and dry in a weary land of abandonment.
As I’m telling her that a garden grown by me is a nice thought but a long shot due to my plant murdering rap sheet, she stops me to say the solution is simple…
“It’s not that you are a plant killer…you’re just putting the plants in a place where they cannot survive. You have to find their happy place.”
She went on to explain that when a plant grown up north calls for 4-6 hours of sunlight that amount of southern sun will kill it. She said for me to watch how a plant reacts in certain locations and if it fails to thrive, move it someplace else. Makes sense. And reminds me of this…how many times have I’ve been in a job…relationship…environment…where if I didn’t move myself I’d wither up and die?
Years ago, like I’m talking 1990 something…I was going through a difficult season and feeling frustrated about a lot of things…I confided in a good friend and she sent me a card in the mail with the words Bloom Where You’re Planted printed on the front. A colorful Mary Engelbreit card that should have made me smile…instead I remember thinking to myself, I don’t want to bloom here! I can’t bloom here! Don’t tell me where to bloom! Bloom this. Just because you’re planted and ABLE to bloom doesn’t guarantee you CAN or WILL…just saying.
Succulents are all the rage…wanna know why? They aren’t needy. You can bring as many home as you like and sit them on a shelf and get on with your life. You only need to acknowledge their presence once a week….it’s a low maintenance relationship and even the weakest of green thumbs can foster a cactus.
Sometimes you feel like a succulent…sometimes you don’t. When your environment is harsh on top of your heart and soul feeling vulnerable and delicate…you are more geranium than aloe vera and that’s okay! Own your neediness and weaknesses and keep moving until you find a place that feeds you and allows you to thrive. God understands seasons of change. Go read Ecclesiastes 3. There is a time for everything…
Kurt and I are in this season. We’ve lots to pray about and we love our friends that encourage and feed into us while we consider what’s next. I encourage you to do the same if you are at that place of knowing it’s time for a change.
Thanks for being here. Thanks for reading my ramblings…it’s my love language. I write and hope you find encouragement.
And you never know, Judith…Perhaps I will one day own and maintain a garden and smile as we crunch a cucumber grown by yours truly. Until that day….