Once I got over the initial shock of the plant's appearance, I decided I'd try to make some improvements to its situation. The sense of dread that whispered disquieting cautions like 'It 'aint dead yet, but it'll fer sure die now' were eventually replaced by the sarcastic platitudes of common sense. 'Seriously,' these reasoned, 'How much worse could it get?' Dismissing dread, I embraced groundless optimism and began adding water while hoping for the best. And the plant continued to die.
Several weeks went by. "Your plant is dead" an office visitor casually commented one day. 'What plant?' I thought. Oops. Like abandoned tailings from a long silent mining operation, brittle brown leaves lay in concentric piles around the base of the plastic halloween cauldron that was my plant's prison. "I'm doing an experiment" I lied to the visitor. The look on his face suggested he knew I was really just a lousy plant-sitter. He shrugged and went back to his three year old magazine with a smirk. I frowned at the plant.
When I was alone again I examined my ailing charge more closely and recognized for the first time the astonishing weight of the dead foliage. So I started pruning. When I was done, the plant looked even more delicate than before, but at least now appeared predominantly pale green instead of overwhelmingly brown. I cautiously convinced myself it was an improvement.
Over the next month it actually began to grow. New stuff. Even green stuff. But still, it leaned, and leaned badly. One day I came into the office and the main stem was touching the lip of the cauldron. I panicked. Maybe it just needed more water...? So I watered the heck out of it. It leaned MORE. That's when I noticed all the holes in the dirt around the roots. Hole..s? I looked at the cup in my hand. And back at the holes. Oops, again. The water from the cup was coming out in such a concentrated flow that it was actually helping to dig up and destroy the roots it was meant to nourish... I was killing my plant with kindness.
What to do, what to do? 'How can I give this plant the help it needs to grow?' I thought as I looked around my office for some solution, 'How can I give it the boost it needs to deepen its roots, the strength to stay propped up, the support needed to stand? That's when I saw the rocks. 'Of course!' I thought, grabbing three of the large ones, then placing them around the stems, 1, 2, 3. The rocks now solved both problems at once. When I watered, I would concentrate the flow onto them instead of directly onto the soil, and it would diffuse down to the roots in a much more manageable trickle. Additionally, by surrounding the base of the stems, the rocks likewise served to prop up the plant, so that it now resembled the small tree it was meant to be, instead of the odd-looking ground cover it was not.
I honestly didn't pay attention to the rocks until I was done. It wasn't until I stood up and looked down at the finished product that I got a little rattled. This is what I saw...
The rocks came from an event promoting prayer for our new church building in Redding. We call that campaign "There Grows the Neighborhood... Building on Grace. We call the rocks "Grace Rocks." They had been sitting there, unused in a corner of my office, all this time.
The solution for the healthy growth of my office plant was being surrounded by grace rocks. It is now supported, saturated and surrounded by grace. And now it is flourishing. What is surrounding you?
Surrounded By Grace,