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An ocean wave with the words: "Soul Songs: discovering the divinity of everyday life"

Hope in a pot

This past winter while charged with the responsibility of watering my mother's plants while my parents were away for a month (a dangerous move for my mom to make--I'm not known for my green thumb), I discovered that the plants did me far more good than I possibly could have done them. I learned from them that life happens "just because." Heedless of the future, ignorant of the wisdom of their choices, they just kept going, and I found myself admiring them for it.

Of the many charges under my temporary care was a pot, containing a geranium and a sweet potato plant, that is kept outside during the spring and summer. During the colder months, it lives indoors next to a floor-to-ceiling window. About halfway through the month, I discovered that the sweet potato plant was, in fact, a vine. It had found and latched on to the string of the window blinds and had begun to climb it. Encircling the string, it climbed vigorously upward, and each time I looked, it was noticeably higher. Despite the fact that this daring little vine would have to be trimmed when the pot was moved outside made no difference to it. The determined vine just kept going, and I became enthralled with the boldness of its journey.

This particular plant was normally not allowed to climb--it was for decoration in the pot. Had this plant been a person, it might have forgotten its true nature after being denied the freedom to climb for its entire life. It might have resigned itself to a life lived in smallness, having known nothing else. And yet the past didn't change its true nature, and as soon as it had the chance, it began its ascent.

I wondered what would have happened if the vine could know that its days were numbered. As soon as warm weather arrived, I knew the pot would be moved and the climbing tendril ruthlessly cut. A person under similar circumstances might see the fruitlessness of climbing at all under those circumstances and opt not to take the risk. But this vine was throwing caution to the wind and pursued its destiny with abandon.

I also wondered where the vine possibly thought it was going. What was going to happen when it reached the top of the string? There was really nowhere else for it go from there. I shook my head as I looked at it creeping ever upwards towards what I perceived to be a dead end. A person would see that dead end and turn back with a sigh of resignation. But this vine had a string to climb, and come hell or high water, it was going to do it. This vine was a climber, and neither the past nor the future had the power to change that.

We are all in our own pots in a struggle between honoring our own true nature and responding to the obstacles placed before us. But like this vine, regardless of how we judge our chances at success or the worthiness of one goal over another, we have an impulse deep within that urges us onward. That spark is not dependent on any outward circumstance. It doesn't care what the deadline is or how far we might go. It calls us to be present to the unchangeable nature of our souls. It calls us to keep going, just because.

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