Wednesday February 23, 2022
Let me tell you about an orchid plant. My mom brought this one for Charlotte on her 5th birthday last year, fully bloomed, the color of sunshine in June. The wonderful thing about orchids is how little maintenance they require at the point of receiving them - even with some haphazard (no) watering, you have a lovely arch or two of flowers for weeks. It’s always after the last one falls that I never quite know what to do next - do I let the small pot sit dormant with its few leaves and the now hay-colored stalks? And nevermind pressing the soil to determine whether it needs water; I’m still not sure how to read that stiff, rocky material around the roots. I confess, many gifted orchids have ended up back in the soil.
This one, though, we stuck by the window in Charlotte’s room and every so often (generously, ten times since July), I’d give it a decent watering without much thought. Oh! Is that a new leaf? In December? Maybe a few more months before we send it out with the rest of the compost. January arrived in all its sameish glory, and while quickly swapping the first Ramona Quimby book for the second during reading time, I noticed a fresh green stalk with tiny buds had sprouted. I stood a bit stunned, almost ridiculed - after all these years of convincing myself that orchids were one hit wonders, was a rebloom really as easy as mindlessly sticking the pot under the faucet every once in a while?
As the stalk continued to grow, so did my belly and we watched each of the 7 buds swell, mirroring the expanding life in our home. On February 20th, 4 days before my scheduled c-section (this little lady is staying breech!), as we prepared to add the 4th human to our family, the 4th flower opened. I’m not superstitious, but I do believe in a supernatural God. For one person, the blooming and timing of our sunshine plant may be mere coincidence, but these signs of life in all their cycle and order have been one of the most beautiful, transcendent things we’ve observed after many hard seasons - a gift of being seen and known. Whatever your faith or understanding is, we all need reminders that beauty simply for beauty’s sake matters; that our flourishing is dependent on cultivating and observing beauty around us. Every heart sings at an electric sky, a flower cascading mountainside, the crackle of fresh bread, the magnificence of color that can’t quite be captured no matter how hard you try.
The celebration of each bud has been another opportunity to show Charlotte what it means to delight in Beauty, hopefully curtailing how she’ll understand its place within the confines of our culture as she gets older - red rouge in velvet matte, mile long falsies in jet black (really, though, no ill will here - I’m absolutely not above a good lip color). Perhaps teaching her to stop and smell the roses in front of our neighbor’s yard, notice the miracle of budding orchids, and soak in the coral cotton clouds is wiring her mind to know that celebrating beauty has very little to do with adding anything to herself, but noticing the inherent value in things that merely exist around us. Perhaps reorienting our gaze will reorient our thoughts. Look up, look up.
image via jetsetter
By the time you’re reading this, we’ll be nestled at home, maybe a little less than a week after bringing Ava home. In the daze of sleepless nights and diapers, we’ll remind ourselves again to find beauty. Find it in the five tiny fingers and toes, the shadows of the oak leaves dancing against the walls as the hours blur into one another, the pure joy a 5 year old has in simply laying next to the sister she’s prayed for. And as we watch the last few buds bloom, I’ll thankfully gaze at that arch until the last one falls and find my way to the faucet till the next season.
to beauty for beauty’s sake,