Even the most fragile looking things have great resilience. Plants, animals, people. Each in its own way has an inner guidance system that points toward thrive.
The shamrock plant that sits on an end table in my living room is proof.
Shamrocks are sturdy but sensitive creatures. I was given this one by a well-wishing friend over ten years ago just as I was leaving a marriage and moving with my ten-year-old daughter into a tiny apartment above a downtown store. A new life called. We felt fragile and a bit broken but were determined to thrive. The shamrock did well there. So did we.
One decade later, I still have the shamrock. It has survived three more moves. I have seen it nearly wilt and die from the changes, a variety of pots, dozens of tabletops and windows. Which would ultimately provide the best life and light?
I recall a time that it begged for its pot to be changed. It simply was not flourishing; it lacked color and verve. It appeared to be either starved or root bound. I took it out to the porch. I sat myself down and carefully, carefully, attempted to unearth it without harming it. Though their faces are big and broad, the stems of shamrocks are vein thin and break ever so easily.
Within seconds of beginning, the stems began to veer wildly away from my hands. They moved of their accord, bowing, dipping, intertwining themselves, like vines on a trellis.
Marvelous Mystery! The stems continued to twist and turn, shifting with an intelligence that startled me. They were trying to hide, to protect themselves from my clumsy efforts. I stopped, took a breath, steadied myself. All this stem maneuvering was taking on the feeling of a science fiction movie. “They’re alive. They’re alive!” screamed the trailer of my memory.
By its very actions, the plant was inviting me to slow down and, carefully, with measured breath and intentional movement, gently, ever so gently, separate the strands so I could replant it wholeheartedly—with as little collateral damage as possible—into a new clay home.
I quietly talked to the plant, apologizing for my initial abruptness, for hurting it (if, indeed, I had), reassuring it that all would be well. The stems appeared to accept my words. They stopped arcing and settled down a bit. Restfully relaxed.
Within a few days time, the wilted stems rose from their lowly posture, strangely Phoenix-like. By week’s end, they were growing strong, faces pointed toward the sunlight that streamed through my office window.
This event changed me. The innate intelligence and power of a simple creature, a Shamrock plant, had made itself known to me and it shifted my reality. To see how my touch and thoughts had impacted it—to help or harm—was a stunner. From that day forward, I have interacted with my plants (and many other beings) in a more intelligent and compassionate way. Aware and more kind ...
We’ve recently moved to a new house. Right before our departure, the shamrock was looking pale again, beyond listless, headed for its final demise. Nary a dozen stems thrived. Looking quite pathetic, I packed it carefully, promising it a lovely new place to live, certain I’d find its happy place.
I have. An end table in front of a west-facing window with just the right amount of sunlight to nurture and sate.
And this is what the shamrock looks like today. Abundant, green, sturdy and strong. It feels happy to me; home, safe and secure.
As do I in this new abode.
Plants are a lot like people and people are a lot like plants. We suffer and thrive. We call upon faith and fortitude when times get tough. Everlastingly resilient, we seek the light. Our inner guidance system points us toward thrive.
Leafy green or firmly fleshed, it doesn’t matter. It appears we are much the same.
is a touchpoint. a resting place, a "remembering" of who we really are and how we can best live—kindly and compassionately with ourselves and others.
Janice Lynne Lundy, DMin
is an educator, interspiritual director/guide and retreat leader who has been pointing people back toward the Sacred for more than twenty years. She is the author of several spiritual growth books, including Your Truest Self, My Deepest Me and Portable Peace., and is the co-founder and co-director of the Spiritual Guidance Training Institute.