Yesterday, I stood over a mass of tendrils and contemplated just how I was to re-pot the massive beast of a pothos in front of me. Months ago when I pot three varieties of pothos into one pot, I didn’t realize how vigorous the plant would grow, becoming an unwieldy tangle of lemon-lime, green, and white foliage. I had been putting off repotting into a few smaller pots although it was time. The plant was in decline. It even started to wilt and many of the leaves were losing their variegation. The thought of tackling it without causing further damage was the source of my laissez-faire attitude. Perhaps it was better to leave it alone and hope for the best?
This plant can’t go into the new year like this, I said aloud to no one in particular. It had to be in better condition when the calendar turned over to 1.1.20. Armed with prunes and a miniature gardening fork, I took the plant over to the sink, ready to tackle the task ahead. I pushed my fingers into the pot and tenderly worked them to loosen the soil. Then I gently cupped the base of the leaves and in less than five seconds, the entire plant was in my hand, roots dangling, looking weak and sickly.
Shit, I said out loud to myself. This was the problem, right there, before my very eyes. The problem with the plant was in the condition of the roots. The roots were not deep. They rested right beneath the surface the top of the layer of soil. If I had tried, I could have simply started pulling on one part of the plant and the entire thing would have unraveled like yarn set free. No amount of pruning or adding soil amendments would have fixed this plant. Only repotting and ensuring it was deeply rooted and adding in fresh soil.
I looked at the mass of leaves and roots in front of me and paused to consider the analogy forming in my mind and heart. I considered all the times in my life when I was so invested in blooms and foliage, that I neglected my roots. Too many times. I think we can all be like that you know, so focused on the external we fail to consider the state of our roots, the very source of us. It never dawned on me, a relatively experienced plant mother of about 25 indoors house plants, that my beloved pothos could have been suffering and dying from the state of not being rooted. Roots can be so informative. They can tell the state of a plant and the condition of a life.
To be rooted, deeply.
You’re like that tree over there, said the old woman, my former pastor, and counselor. She pointed to a massive, yet unimpressive tree. I winced at the idea of being compared to the ugly, barren-looking thing. I felt offended. You see at that time in my life, I especially felt barren and ugly. I was freshly separated and raw from a very toxic and abusive marriage. And I was reeling with the barrenness that relationship wrought in so many areas of my life. Your wounds are tender in such times you know, and words can be so poisonous to them. As if catching my thoughts, she turned and looked at me with her usual wisdom and grace, and putting her hand into mine, took me to stand at the pitiful looking tree. After a few seconds, she spoke words that would be a game-changer for me. Child, your branches look poorly. Right now you seem fruitless and you have no leaves. But your roots are strong.
At her words, my heart skipped a beat and my breath contracted, the way my body reacts when my soul bears witness with the deepest truths of me. These are the truth that lay buried beneath the daily grind, clothes, client calls and busyness, bleach blonde hair, and a mass of fears. Beneath the surface of a shell and a life.
Over the years I would return to this tree, to look at it in all its thickly-barked glory and struggling foliage to wonder how it was still standing. Over time I came to understand that it stood there in its inelegant strength because the part of it above the ground did not bear witness to the health and vitality beneath the surface of the soil. It helped me appreciate why I too, was still standing, in spite of it all. Strong roots.
The last decade has been incredible and littered with innumerable teaching moments and growth opportunities. I am so grateful for all I have seen and all I have endured. Even the bad. You see it has all conspired to make me who I am and for the most part, I find it deeply satisfying to be me. I’ve endured a lot to be me. And I am still becoming.
My hope and pray for this new decade is to become more rooted, more focused on my condition beneath the surface, in the deep, dark, earthy places where I regenerate and keep firm. I want to be rooted in my purpose and truth. I want to be rooted in grace and faith. I also want my roots to extend out and deepen my connection with the people and causes that are important to me. I want my roots to position me to live in a way where I am not just thriving and blooming on the surface, but like that old and gnarled tree, I remain firm and upright. I want to water my life with the experiences and people that will strengthen my roots and cause them to keep stretching deeper.
For 2020 and beyond, my wish is that you too deepen your roots and that they hold you firm no matter what this year or decade brings. I also want to say thank you to all who supported FemmePowered’s events and small groups in 2019. I’m thankful to all the members of our book club, and our MVP’s Sue and Dr. Lowe who refused to let the club fold even when I said I wanted to bring it to a close. We have continued our monthly book club meetings unbroken since our launch in 2018! I always look forward to my monthly dates with this fun-loving, wine drinking, plant-swapping, meal sharing, eclectic bunch of women and our lone male member. Do consider joining us. We’d love to have you.
I’d like to invite you to my workshop happening this month, Write Your Best Year. Details can be found in the flyer below. Please get in touch if you are interested or wish to know more.
If you read to the end of this long, reflective email, may God’s grace abide with you this year. Okay; I’ll leave you to get back with your day. I have plants to repot and an old tree to go visit.