Thursday, March 22, 2012

Plant Anyway

I’m not always great about relaxing; that’s why I need friends who are.

My friend Jeanette encourages me and my family to get away every year around the beginning of Spring, and more often than not she provides a venue for that, usually in the form of a luxurious vacation home up in the mountains. Our families get together to play, eat, and be merry, and we all have a great time.

Being so far removed from my household duties, cares, and the hustle and bustle of town puts my mind into a better place. For me, it takes a full three days to be officially un-wound. Add a couple of days of soaking in a hot tub, cross country skiing in the fresh pine-scented air, and sleeping in every morning and you’ve got the perfect combination for a singular experience.

Mine happened, almost predictably, on the third day of vacation.

I had this uncanny dream in the wee morning hours that I haven’t been able to shake the feeling of, even a full year later.

In my dream, I was back at my former mother-in-law’s country house, the one she’d sold after her husband died, out behind the hill where the creek flowed. As dreams go, this was all sort of surreal and ethereal…pieces and parts of things as a conglomerate that I immediately understood and recognized, although were I awake it would have made no sense at all.

I made my way around the familiar hill, the one my first husband and I had hiked out to during my introduction to his childhood home and acreage on one of our initial dates. It had been so important for him to introduce me to his mother, and to share this beloved playground with me. In my dream, all of that had still seemed like yesterday, but right along with that there was the knowledge of the sweet and the painful, the good and the bad, the marriage and the divorce.

I was completely alone now, but I sensed my daughter’s presence somewhere in the background, as if she were aware of me, observing me from afar…as if watching for an example.

Beyond the hill I was surprised to find my car, hood open, with beautiful lush green plants growing out of the engine. For a fleeting moment I was upset about this, because I assumed that I would still need my car. How could this stationary object be useful now? And with the plants…who was going to clean all of that off my engine? How would I ever drive it again?

Surrounded by my car were other stationary items. Coffee tables and end tables…all strangely familiar to me, like ones I’d had in some of my homes throughout the years. Each had plants growing out of them, the greenery draping over their edges. It was then that I began to notice that the plants were growing out of the smooth surfaces without the benefit of any soil. It was as if they didn’t need it.

Each plant was healthy, hearty, and the perfect deep, rich color.

Looking around, I began to not only comprehend that I was surrounded by plants, but that each plant was one I’d put in the ground at one time in my life, attempting to cultivate. There was the one that Grandma had called the Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever…I’d placed them in the yard of our first home, right beneath our picture window. I’d loved the two-toned green and white of the leaves from the first time I’d seen it and had been determined to find some for our place. It was probably still growing at that old first home of ours, sold long ago.

The philodendrons that had been my houseplants. All there. Not replicas of, but I was somehow made aware that these were indeed the very same plants I’d planted ages ago, matured and thriving.

I had never been a green thumb, although I’ve given it a mighty effort. In my waking hours I often joked that all I had to do was look at a plant and it would shudder and begin to brown. Every year I planted a garden. Every year it was hit and miss.

I’ve very much felt that my life has been that way, too. A huge frustration was nearly twenty years of marriage with all of the toil, happiness and heartache that goes into such things…ending badly. At the time of this dream, I’d been ruminating over what it was all for. I’ve never been able to believe that a loving God would set me up for failure, to have me put so much effort into not just my marriage but jobs, homes, friendships, finances…only to have them dry up or become lost. While the character-building part of it was probably worthwhile (I suppose), why all of this plant and wither, plant and whither? Now middle-aged, I was weary of it. I’d even lately shied away from a few friendships, ventures, and the added effort that I’d have been much more willing to put in at a younger, more naïve age. What was even the point?

Being surrounded by every plant I’d ever planted, many of which I’d completely forgotten about, from well over twenty-plus years ago…that drove the ‘point’ home very clearly. The impression I was getting in a very strong way, so strong that I could both feel in my heart and hear in my mind was this:

“Nothing you’ve planted was fruitless. Everything that you’ve ever put your hands to had an effect; a result, even though your own eyes can’t see that. Everything you do matters; everything you do will eventually bear fruit in the end.”

I awoke to the sun streaming through my window and the smell of Jeanette downstairs frying bacon…and I wept.

I could finally give a respectful nod to decades of effort. Building relationships, building businesses, raising children and hoping they turned out well. The fighting and the making up and the fighting. Finances gained, finances lost. The sleepless nights and the nights roasting marshmallows in the backyard around the firepit. Jobs, (and people) that I gave my all to, and still got let go anyway, in the end.

None of it was for nothing. Every bit of it was a seed planted that would grow and never die. Perhaps it wouldn’t grow where or how I’d planned…perhaps it would turn out, like those glorious plants…even better than I could ever have imagined. I had perfect confidence that I would see the fruit…if not today, then someday. I’ve viewed things differently since having that dream. It’s not an all-or-nothing deal anymore…I’ve experienced more of a wizened, contemplative feel for things. If I don’t see what I wish I could see right now, all I have to do is be patient. It will all work out, in good time. The seeds have been planted and cultivated; the rest is purely in God’s hands.

I can wait.

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