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Advent: Day 19

“What do you want to do with these plants you have in the attic? They’re dead. I’m bringing them down,” Todd said.

“Oh, I know. I killed them.” Neither of the two orchids had shown any signs of life for months but I had kept hoping. I had to accept my failure.

There were two of them. They kept sweating and spotting, roots all exposed, needing repotting. I’d moved them upstairs away from the other group of orchid gifts I’d been given over the years so they wouldn’t be models to the others that it was okay to be sweaty and spotty.

Upstairs and downstairs plants received the same care. I understood now, they liked to be left alone, they needed light but not too direct, and only a little water in order to thrive. (Like a spiritual practice.)

Having to face the motley pair that day hit me harder than I thought it would. I had tried to revive them this past summer and put them on the back porch for fresh air but within three days I had noticed they’d been scorched. I carried them inside and back upstairs hoping for a revival. It hadn’t come. And now I was facing the burial.

One of them was the first orchid I’d ever owned. Captured by their almost ethereal beauty one day at the grocery store, I’d stopped at the display and it had ended up in my cart. That was about ten years ago.

The other had been a gift from Dad. I’d kept quiet about a little procedure I had needed that had laid me up for a couple days. In he walked with orchid number two. Like pets, plants know and carry love within them. So, I had killed what love of Dad’s had been left inside that plant. I cried.

And then I gave them both a good bath in orchid food and found them each a new spot in our bedroom—I placed Dad’s beside a Christmas cactus belonging to my mom and hoped her love could help carry it along.

The other, I placed on a bookshelf not too far away from Simon’s plant. I had accepted responsibility for it when my friend had moved to Australia. I’d killed that plant too but kept a stalk of it in water for years. Roots eventually grew. When they were exploding over the edges of the jar, I got around to planting it one summer when both gardening soil and an extra pot were handy. It took root and now needs to be repotted again.

My plants.

I’m sad to say, Simon’s little buddy Orchid #1 didn’t make it…so I used the extra wood chips to help cover the exposed roots of my father’s gift, Orchid #2. I’ve left it alone beside Cactus and have given it only a couple cubes (of ice) each week. Still hoping.

And would you believe three leaves have appeared on that lifeless hopeless stalk of death and daily reminder of my failure? Why it’s an Advent miracle…

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