This story begins with an unhinged door being blown out of its frame by a gust of southern wind. The short version is that I had removed the hinges and handles so I could paint the second-floor door to the balcony without making a mess on the hardware. The blowout came a couple of weeks later, long after the paint had dried but before I’d moved the hibiscus that must spend its winters indoors. The falling door hit the lip of the large ceramic planter, inflicting minor damage to the door and major damage to the planter. Therefore, the hibiscus needed a new home. Fade to another plant, much smaller…
The Purple Heart plant, an exceptionally brittle but attractive specimen with its purple shoots and leaves and pink blooms, also spent its winter indoors. In the mudroom. By November, I had tired of watering the plant and the mudroom floor. (Yes, it would have been possible to have procured some sort of pan, but, well, I didn’t.) And so, by spring, the Purple Heart plant had turned into a Thoroughly Brown plant. Leaves, stems, surface roots and everything other part had morphed into a dry, crispy collage. Last week, Randa set the miserable little mess out in front of the garage for proper disposal. Here’s where the stories merge.
I’d set the hibiscus outside in its broken pot, in the shade for its transition to summer living. On Saturday evening, I decided, finally, to re-pot the thing. I decided to start by adding some additional soil. Conveniently, some was available. I figured that since the Purple Heart was no longer in need of dirt and the hibiscus needed more, I’d simply dump that small container into the large one and then relocate the hibiscus.
Having proceeded with this plan, I began chopping up the clump, a mat of dry stems and root mass. Halfway through the process, I noticed a piece of pale, fleshy stem, about an inch long. I picked it up. “Hmmm,” I thought, “this looks suspiciously like a piece of viable plant material.” Well, okay, what I actually thought was, “Dang, maybe this thang ain’t all dead after all.”
Sure enough, when I scruffed away all of the dead stems down to the very base of the plant clump, there were several little white tips sprouting up from that not-as-dead-as-I-thought mass. I ended up repotting the Purple Heart and found other dirt for the hibiscus.
Sometimes by our own neglect, something good in our life begins to look like there’s no hope for it. A relationship, a project, a career path, some dream faded by disappointment and abandoned, whatever. What once seemed ready to flourish turns brown and ugly, nothing but a dried mass of worthless leaves and pieces of stem. Even the roots seem dry and lifeless.
But to the God who makes the dead alive and speaks of those things that are not as if they are, nothing is beyond hope. Nothing.