This story was 20+ years in the making. Fortunately, it will not take as long to share. For some, this will seem like a silly, little story. However, the lesson embedded in the story is one I hope I have finally learned. And in sharing it with you I hope you can learn it too.
Many years ago, decades ago, I had a rare plant in my life. For you budding botanists out there, the plant was an Epiphyllum Ackermannii; the common name for this plant is ‘orchid cactus’. The orchid cactus is an exquisite plant. Untidy in appearance, the flowers that are produced are extraordinary in every way. The sheer size of the fluted flower (some 3” x 5” in diameter) is awe-inspiring and the deep, deep red color of the flower is enchanting. The plant was in my life for a few years, faithfully producing exquisite bloom, after exquisite bloom, each year it was in my life. When I moved, the plant did not come with me.
Many years passed and I then moved into a new house in Ottawa, Canada, that provided ample natural light for house plants. As I was going through my antique plant encyclopedia one day, dreaming of all the plants I could adorn my new house with, I came across the orchid cactus. Remembering how much joy it brought into my life in the past, and thinking I could provide the proper conditions for such a plant to thrive in my new home, I sought to bring an orchid cactus back into my life.
Much to my surprise and disappointment, no floral stores or greenhouses in my city carried this plant. I searched, and searched, and searched some more, and not a single store or supplier in my city or province carried or bred orchid cactuses. Not wanting to give up on my dream, I turned to my good friend Mr. Google of the internet-family of search engines and found a botanist in California who bred a hybrid form of orchid cactus. We exchanged a few emails and I was fascinated to be informed that the international botanist community had stopped breeding the rare and exquisite orchid cactus many years before. However, this California-based botanist had made her life passion in breeding a new, hybrid-form of orchid cactus for mass enjoyment. Without hesitation, I had a few cuttings of this hybrid orchid cactus shipped from California, United States, to Ottawa, Canada.
The cuttings arrived a few days later and I immediately planted the cuttings, carefully following the California-botanist instructions for soil, water and other care. It was late summer and I had no expectations the plant would produce any growth for the remainder of the season.
The following spring arrived, and one day I noticed a flower bud starting to form on one of the cuttings planted the previous summer. I became very excited! The thought of being able to see an exquisite orchid cactus flower brought great joy into my life.
As the weeks went on, the trajectory of the sun was shifting fast; too fast in fact. During the winter and spring months, the orchid cactus was getting full sun. But now that summer was hinting at its forthcoming presence in our lives, the sun rose so high in the sky, so quickly, that the sun no longer was shining directly on the orchid cactus. And then one day I noticed the flower bud that had been growing, and growing, and growing, started to change color (not good!) and starting to shrivel up (not good!).
It was now late April and my partner suggested I place the orchid cactus outside in the front garden where it would get full sun all day. While this seemed like a reasonable suggestion, I balked at the idea of placing this precious (to me) plant outside in the elements. I feared the temperatures (it was still quite cool at night) would stunt the plants growth, or that nature’s creatures would take up residence in the cactus and leave it battered and broken. So I resisted the idea, I held on.
Each passing day saw the flower bud shrivel more and more. I was saddened. My dream of seeing this extraordinary flower in full bloom was fading with every day. Again, my partner suggested I place the plant outside in the front garden. Again, I resisted. I held on.
Finally, I had nothing to hold on to. The bud shrivelled up and fell off the stalk. Not to sound too dramatic, but it was a day of mourning for me.
My partner suggested again, “Put the plant in the front garden. Maybe other blooms will sprout.” Knowing that blooming plants like orchid cactus have cycles of blooming each year (and typically only once per year), I realized that my opportunity to see my orchid cactus in full bloom for this year had passed. With the acceptance of this in mind, I ‘let go’ and placed the plant outside in the front garden.
As I placed the orchid cactus in its new home for the summer months, I thanked the plant for gifting me with the joy and excitement over seeing this rare species of plant sprout and flower. As each day passed, and I walked by the orchid cactus in the garden, I gave it thanks for all the joy it brought into my life.
A couple of weeks had passed since I placed the orchid cactus in the front garden and one day I noticed a little growth coming out from the side of one of the stalks of the plant. I looked closely at the growth and to my delight I realized it was a new bloom sprouting! As I examined the plant more closely, I counted a total of 8 new blooms sprouting! And that turned into 12 new blooms a couple of days later. I was so excited at this turn of events. And then it dawned on me…
Look at what I gained by letting go! I had held on, and held on, to the idea of placing the orchid cactus outside in the front garden. I held on so long that the very thing I wanted to happen, the flower to bloom, I prevented from doing so. When I finally let go, a whole new world of possibilities opened up for me.
I hope to carry this lesson with me as I move forward in life. How about you?
Shanti, Namaste, Agapé,
Rev. Robert Meagher
Photo Credit: (No copyright intended.)
About the Author:
Robert Meagher worked for almost 25 years in traditional corporate settings and acted in various management roles in the education, arts, financial, not-for-profit, government, consulting, and healthcare sectors. Along the way Robert earned bachelor and masters degrees and professional certifications. Robert left corporate Canada in 2009 to set himself adrift and explore a new way of living and seeing the world we live in. Robert is now an Interfaith Minister who embraces a spiritual life and now serves to guide all those who wish to accept the Divine into their lives. Through Spiritual Guidance, Robert’s ministry initiative, he embraces the opportunity to serve those who wish to explore their own spirituality and gain insight into who they are, their purpose here in this lifetime and existence, and their desire to grow in Spirit. Robert can be reached at 613-204-0299, [email protected], or through his website at www.servingyourjourney.com.