Thursday, March 19, 2009

Life as Plant Cuttings

A remarkable thing happened to me this morning - in typical, fashion, as I was doing something most unremarkable, drying dishes.

In the process of removing the dishes from the sink, I was forced to move aside the runners of a plant sitting at the corner of the sink, in the window. It's been there for months now, really I haven't paid that much attention - and suddenly, it grew.

There is a history about this plant. It was given to us as a cutting, a gift for a small group church dinner we were invited too. I remember because that was the nadir of my walk in real estate, when I truly messed up - and then had to hold it together through dinner with people I didn't really know.

The plant came home with us, where it got re-potted and set out. The cats ate it, the kids plucked leaves off of it, it sometimes down to one or two runners - but somehow it always continued to live and struggle back. It became an emblem for me in my life, as real estate failed and the commute to one company got too long, and then when the other company failed: the plant came back, so I can too.

And then one day, looking at the plant, the Ravishing Mrs. TB decided to move it into the kitchen - the darn thing really wasn't do that well. And then, come these days of longer light, the plant is thriving, kicking out growth all over the place (including into our clean dishes).

The thought it triggered this morning as I was moving the runners out of the way is what changed for the plant. Plants, if you don't remember, need three things: light, water, and carbon dioxide. The water was always there (sometimes too much), the carbon dioxide is always present (can't really control that), which leaves (no pun intended) the light. A simple change in one of three elements changed it from survive to thrive.

Now admittedly humans are more complicated than plants, and typically need more input than water, sunlight, and carbon dioxide. But we're not all that complicated that the point is lost. If I feel I am surviving, what are the inputs that I need. What could I change that would move me from survive to thrive? A thriving plant is the kind that eventually we derive all our food and fiber from: plants that are just surviving do not produce fruits or vegetables or fibers because they're struggling just to hang on.

I would therefore posit that if I am not thriving, it's because one of the inputs I need is not sufficient and needs to be tweaked.

What's my input that needs to be changed?

What's yours?


  1. You never cease to amaze me with your insights, leading me to deep, personal reflection. I love that you can take so much from the simplest things...such as the plant...and produce much thought. You inspire me constantly!
    For me, I am almost certain what I lack when I am not thriving healthily is quiet time with God and margins. I am a very selfish person and find I am the one talking more than God a good share of the time. I don't always take enough time to listen. I have a great book called "Invitation to Solitutde and Silence" written by Barton that has been quite helpful. When it comes to margins, I find I am always taking on more and more in attempt to find a fulfillment that only Christ can fill. If I would just slow down and allow Him to fill me, I know I would your plants is now! Good thoughts friend, as always!

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  3. Buttercup - Thank you for your kind words. In point of fact, I get them from the simplest things because I am simple...

    One thing that is becoming apparent as I walk through this period of my life is the necessity of spending time with God. Real time, not shoved into the margins as you so aptly point out. It's funny (and I know as a gardener you understand this) how we are willing to take carefully into account the things to make plants grow but we don't do the same for our own spiritual lives. I have often gone for the minimum amount of time with God instead of the maximum - and my life demonstrates the results. One wonders if put the same care into our spiritual lives as we do our plants, what our lives might be like.


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