One of the things you may not know about me is that I am terrible with plants. Though many people have a green thumb, I am a textbook example of a brown thumb. My instincts and habits are terrible. Either I water the plant too much or not enough. I never know how much sun is enough. I am lucky if a plant lasts more than a month in my house. If I am really honest, most of my plants suffer from neglect. I just get too busy and by the time I remember the plant, the plant is past the point of redemption. One of my former parishioners was convinced she could convert me to a green thumb. She even regularly put plants on our front porch – right near the water spigot. I am sure she mourned many a plant on my behalf.
There is, however, one exception to this rule. It was a plant given to us as a wedding present almost fifteen years ago. Of course, when we received it, my immediate thought was, “Great! There goes another plant in the trash!” But much to my surprise, the plant was hearty. No matter how long I forgot to water it, it managed to forgive me and perk back up when watered. No matter how many new places I took it, it kept on going. I jokingly started referring to the plant as our “love plant.” It was a reminder of our special day, and like a loving marriage, it held together through thick and thin.
But during our most recent move, I pretty much killed our love plant. I left the plant in the car. It was not that warm in April, so I figured it would be okay there. But I think our love plant just got scorched over the several-day move. I had never seen the plant look like it did. Normally the leaves naturally fell off when it was getting thirsty (my number one sign to water it!!). But these leaves just shriveled and refused to fall or separate from the stem. One stem seemed salvageable, but the other was totally gone – shriveled and dry. I was devastated – not only for the plant that lasted almost 15 years with me, but also because of the significance the love plant had assumed. What did its death mean? Was it a sign about my marriage?!?
I refused to throw the plant away. It just broke my heart too much. So it sat on a window sill and I just let it be a sad reminder of my failure. But then last week, something incredible happened. At the bottom of the “barely alive” stem of the plant appeared new foliage. I almost cried. The plant has never gotten new foliage at the bottom – only at the top. I don’t know what it means or if they will just fade too, but the joy I felt for those new little guys was overwhelming. And then, today, I noticed some new foliage on the “dead” stem too.
I do not know if there is any real symbolism in the new growth, but I have to imagine there is. My husband and I have started new jobs, our kids have begun new schools, and we have begun a new phase of our life. Almost fifteen years later, love continues to find new ways to grow in our marriage, even on days when it feels like the love is dried up. That kind of faithfulness is the same faithfulness we see in God’s hesed, or loving-kindness, for all of us. Even when we feel like God’s love has abandoned us, we find new springs of life bubbling up where we least expect it. Today, I encourage you to look for the new growth in your life. Where is love sneaking in and gifting you with joy?