Leaving Alone to Heal

I love orchids but have never had much luck with them. Most of them have died under my care and certainly never produced another bloom. I read about them and it made me anxious about caring for them. Some advise a strict watering regiment and others say no water but ice cubes, please! Then there is the potting medium, the orchid food, the snipping or no snipping of the roots, and more. I’m not much of a high maintenance person so the idea of a high maintenance plant gives me heartburn.


About two years ago I came in possession of another orchid and honestly I don’t remember how. I can’t remember if someone had it and gave it to me as a way of getting it off their hands or if I was gifted it. I’m not very good with details, including in my memories and especially about plants I am afraid to care for. I watched it bloom, enjoyed it, and left it sitting next to my sink. I watered it when I thought about it and only a little, usually every few days.


Last summer I looked at it one day to find it had, seemingly overnight, sent out a shoot for new blooms! I was so afraid to breathe on it! I continued my care routine of very little care and just left it alone. All summer I enjoyed the blooms. Eventually they fell off and I left the bloom stalk because I really didn’t know what else to do.


Sometime between Halloween and Christmas (again, that’s a detail and my brain doesn’t like those) I snipped off the empty stalk mostly because it looked naked and pointless to me. But the plant remained happy so I left it alone and continued tossing some water on it now and again.
Early this spring a new shoot appeared! I was so excited! I hadn’t ruined the plant, after all, and it was going to show off for me again.


Then tragedy struck. I was washing dishes and set a bottle or something next to the sink and it toppled over and broke off the bloom shoot about ¾ of the way down to the base. I was devastated. I left it alone and apologized to the plant regularly.


But then something amazing happened! I noticed one day that it had healed over the broken end of the shoot and set a second branch out of it. Then a few weeks later it sent a second shoot out of its base. So, as of my writing this, I have six open blooms, four or five more buds, and an entire bloom shoot still developing on this little persistent orchid!


The moral of the story for me: sometimes things (and people) just need to be loved and left alone! More care isn’t necessarily better care. Sometimes things and people know better than we do how to heal themselves and often will turn out better than they were before. Our job isn’t always to fix or dote or obsessively try to correct. There are times when sitting on our hands and sending good vibes and positive thoughts and leaving well enough alone really is a ministry in and of itself.


Does that mean we should treat everyone and everything this way? No. There are also times when intense care and attention are needed. But not always. I know I have struggled in the past when someone told me they just needed time. As a priest it felt like they were pushing me away and I assumed it meant they didn’t like me or I had done something wrong. But over time, I’ve learned to trust people a little more and to remind myself I’m not the center of the universe and the health and fate of everyone with whom I come in contact does not, in fact, depend on me.


As a “fixer” that’s difficult for me. I’m a proactive type and not particularly patient. That applies to my own life as well. I’m looking at the little orchid now and also realizing there have been times when I would have been better served by shutting up, sitting down in a south facing window, taking just a little water now and again, and left myself alone to heal and renew and restore. Not everything is solved by “doing.” Sometimes we need to trust the quiet unseen processes that only happen when we stop long enough to let them.

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