It was the cutest little combination of succulents in a tiny pottery custard cup. Pretty little rocks surrounded tiny little plants and it was meant for my kitchen window! So I brought it home from that ladies day where it was in my gift basket, excited that it was so healthy, but knowing that my black thumb would soon sentence it to the pile of once-beautiful-but-now-decaying plants I’ve thrown out that door behind the lone thriving Gardenia bush that I’ve come to think of as my one horticultural success. Maybe that Gardenia thrives on dead plants thrown at its roots. My friend, Pat, gives me daises. “Anybody can grow these. I mean you can’t keep them from growing.” Then, the next spring, I dread the moment when she will say “You DO have daisies this year, don’t you. Oh mine are taking over the place!”
I was so happy that one spring when I could say “Yes I have one!” One daisy.
But this succulent was going to be different. Succulents are hardy. They need little water and care. And this one was so cute. So I watered rarely and watched that thing grow. I thought about the day when I would transplant it into a larger piece of pottery. And it did prosper. Sometimes I thought, “Wow, that thing grew a little overnight.” I’d pick it up to see how heavy it was and determine if it needed water. It flourished in the sunlight there in my kitchen window. I decided that I had a succulently green thumb and that I had come into my own with this one kind of plant!
Today was the day that I was going to transplant that little thriving thing into a bigger dish. I chose an antique casserole dish that had belonged to Glenn’s great grandmother; a dish that I wanted to keep, but one that I did not want to risk in the microwave or dishwasher. It was, in my mind, a perfect use for that little gold and black bowl. I’d have to graduate my plant from the windowsill to the table.
So I started to dig it up. I looked out the window and found the spot where I’d dig up some additional dirt for the transplant. Ezra had gathered some pretty smooth stones from his last hike with Papa, so I would put those around the plant and cover the soil to the perimeter of the dish. Perfect.
I started to dig the plant out of its little custard dish. On one side of the plant I saw some type of white “mineral” as I started to dig. I thought, “Wow, I guess this is why this thing has been so healthy. They had put some kind of Miracle Gro or something in there.” It looked kind of like a salty mixture. “Maybe that’s to absorb extra water.”
Then I dug a little deeper and that whole plant came up…
In a chunk of styrofoam! I’ve been watering styrofoam for 8 months! I’ve been watching plastic “grow”! My mums outside are the most pitiful things. My hasta plants (you know the ones everyone else is thinning out) are struggling along beside elephant’s ears that may have to have tubes because of ear infection. But this!…This was my little prize. This was the pretty little succulent that COULD. It could grow and thrive and be transplanted to something lovely on my table.
That thing was styrofoam and plastic and a few pretty little pebbles to hide its duplicity! Pebbles were the only real part of the little display. And I had even cracked the custard bowl digging it out!
Don’t anyone come bringing me a succulent for the feel-betters, either. I mean, I am done!
Here are the take-aways:
- Take the time to learn the difference between what’s real and what’s plastic. There’s a lot of plastic in this world today.
- Imagined growth is sometimes substituted for real growth. If you aren’t measuring your growth by the objective standard (With plants, it’s a ruler; with souls, it’s the Word.), then you might not be experiencing growth at all. You may be imagining life growth while your styrofoam’s just swelling.
- What you think is nutrition, may just be evaporation. (A lot of water went somewhere.) The Water of Life is useless if we are not drinking it.
- Sometimes, we can look like we are planted in the good soil of Matthew 13, when really, we are just on the stony ground. My little stones looked really good, but there was nothing under there to sustain a plant.
- Just because someone thinks you’re beautiful, doesn’t mean you have substantive beauty that really counts.
- If you look nice, but you are not connected to the living vine (John 15) you will eventually be thrown in the fire.
- There are some spots in life when you are VERY surprised to learn that what you thought was real was counterfeit. In those times, you can’t spend a lot of time regretting the effort you put into the counterfeit. You have to just look around for what’s real and go to the authentic with water and nutrition and some “saving power.” I’m going to the struggling hastas and elephant’s ears. And I’m going to the souls that need me.
Today is ‘fire-day” for this little deceiver. Great Grandmother’s bowl is way too good for plastic succulents.