Growing up, I had a dream one day of becoming a Horticulturist. But that did not happen. I became a Culinary Arts/Hospitality major instead.
I remember the white metal plant card my Grampop gave me one year for Christmas. My dad assembled it mumbling that it was a waste of time because he assumed I would soon tire of this gift like I did with all the other childhood toys I had acquired in my young life. When most 7-year-olds were listing Barbies and plastic mini kitchenettes on their "I've been good" list for Santa, I was begging for a watering can and plant cart.
The plant cart was set up. I did not receive potting soil for Christmas, though. I remember going out into our backyard, with my winter coat and mittens in search of some dirt I could dig up from the frozen ground. I stabbed at that lifeless Terra-firma until a few caked pieces of dry dirt encased in ice were placed into my black plastic pot. I placed a saucer underneath, plunked the pot down on the cart and went back out in search of another pot, saucer and spot of land in which to repeat the arduous task.
I did not have seeds, plants or anything to place in these pots, which now sadly sat (sans plant life) on the white metal cart in my bedroom. And so, I cut a piece from the hanging Wandering Jew plant (which my Grampop mostly likely bought me!) that hung over the doorway to my alcove on the way to the attic. I snuck a glass from the kitchen (later got caught and had to replace that glass with a pickle jar) and patiently waited for that Wandering Jew to root. And it did! I propagated many plants from that one sickly Wandering Jew hanging basket. My white metal plant cart soon held many black plastic pots with dusty hard caked mud with Wandering Jews. As I sit here now and think back about those days of carefully tending my "garden", I am slightly regretful. I had done everything alone. I could have learned so much about the plant which held a name which I now know had Biblical significance. Alas, fast forward to today.....
I am standing in the middle of Sugar Sand Park being given a beautiful gift and card signed by staff members of the park. These three special people made up an international holiday which they called "International Butterfly Garden Volunteers Week" (or something like that) in order to bless me and show appreciation for my time in the garden volunteering. They gave me a purple shirt (my fav color) which listed "Advice from a Monarch" on the front along with a picture of a Monarch. The advice was so good but my favorite was the very last line, "We can't all be Monarchs!".
And so, I was convicted. God, I was never created to be a Monarch. I was instead made to be a White Peacock Butterfly or Yellow Sulphur! I was set apart for Your purposes to do Your work. Whether I am alone or with wonderful people like those as Sugar Sand - You see me. You give me JOY. You put a song in my heart and a smile on my lips and the voice I hear in stillness is Yours. As I weed and water and wonder - - as I sit and look up into the Slash Pine hammock overheard, you send Zebra Longwings and even Banana Spiders to intrigue me. I do not see the possibility of a sting when I see the deadly creepy crawly creatures (or bees pollinating two inches from where I prune), but instead I observe an intricately woven crystal dew drop design - a glimpse of the beauty of my Creator - - who wants me to see the magnificence of His design no matter where I am.
After moving to Florida, I remember walking one day through my neighborhood. I was quite shocked to see an entire lawn of Wandering Jews! There were even variegated varieties!!! I took a picture. I could not even believe my eyes and I did say aloud, "You are too funny, God. I spent how many arduous days and nites trying to keep one tendril of a Wandering Jew alive in a pot filled with caked lifeless dirt - - and here these grow as weeds. Ha ha ha God!"
If I were a Monarch, I may have missed God's humor. I may have just blindly followed the leader all my life and just migrated through every season without being rebellious and then not being the prodigal and missing out on so many miracles because I left and then came home. I would no doubt have become boring. My nickname would not be "Flower Child" and my favorite color would possibly be black! But it's not. I bucked the system. I flew above flowers I could have easily landed on. I took a different flight....
Yes, though I volunteer at a butterfly garden, I have also expanded my personal "white plant cart" a bit. My garden has grown. The soil is no longer depleted or chemical laden. I actually have delved into Vermiculture and have worm friends that rely on me for food. We have Gulf Fritallaries, Yellow Sulphur, Giant Swallowtail, White Peacocks - - and of course we always have Monarchs. My neighbor came over recently and as she held the baby Milkweed sproutlings and baby Monarch catepillar I was sending her home with- she looked at me and exclaimed, "You are like a Buddhist!"
I looked at her and said, "I was not a Monarch in a former life and certainly have not and will not come back as a Monarch in my next life. This is my one and only life this side of Heaven. Not a Buddhist. I am a born again Christian. I realized my need for a Savior when Eve in the Garden made a very bad choice. It all started in the garden. Sin. And now I realize just because sin entered man in the garden, the garden does not have to be a place of death. Instead, we bring life to the garden. The Master Gardener is God."
She had questions. We sat in the shade. I continued the conversation by asking her if she would like to hear about my white metal plant cart. She did. She also listened as I shared my Wandering Jew crusade. I didn't have any Wandering Jew to send her home with, though. Those plants are everywhere by the roadside here in South Florida.Some consider those plants weeds. I like to think of them as humble beginnings for greater growth.
There is relationship in the garden. God knew what He was doing when He created the very first garden. He also knew what He was doing when He made my Grampop buy me that white metal plant cart. I am grateful - - even though I will never be a Monarch!