There are 26 blossoms on the orchid on my desk. This is only the second time it has bloomed in the almost five years that I have had it. The first time it bloomed, I watched the stalk that would hold blossoms emerge daily. I observed each bud as it expanded into a small orb and eventually into a bright purple pink blossom. And I kept track as each blossom emerged, opened to the light, and then turned translucent, withered, and fell to the desk. You can read about the first time it blossomed here.
This year, I have barely noticed. Well, that’s not quite right. I have absolutely noticed that the orchid is blooming but I have been avoiding its gaze, unwilling to be pulled into its brilliance. I walk by with my eyes averted and haven’t sat at my desk all summer. Over the last few days though, I have been drawn to the orchid’s brilliance, curious about what it has to teach me — both in its splendor and in my avoidance.
I think there is something here of abundance that I can’t quite face. And something of beauty — and of the pain and joy of love — and of finitude…
Today, I am sitting at my desk for the first time since the orchid began to bloom again in June. It is time to take it in. I have looked each flower in the eye, counted the blossoms growing on 4 stems, appreciated the nine evergreen leaves that are feeding them, and watered the woodchips that hold it all. I am basking in the glow of these 26 blossoms. Radiant alone and a stunning celebration together, there is a reminder here to hold my arms open wide to the fullness of life.
For months, I have been managing the abundance in my life with my head down, unable to meet its gaze or embrace its fullness. Afraid that the busy-ness of work and life coupled with the mess we have made of our planet could overwhelm me, I have only been able to look at it all sideways. I have been skirting along the sidelines, doing my part to keep all the pieces afloat but not allowing myself to notice or appreciate my own immersion in the water.
Today, as I bask in the abundance of the orchid, I recognize that in the immersion, there is a fullness that invigorates. There is no doubt that it also feels overwhelming, but I feel assured that the fullness holds me even as it pushes at me. I notice both great joy and great sadness and I feel my heart stretch to accomodate them both at the same time. In this immersion, I feel myself carried away into something that is beyond myself. It is where and how I can give myself away to all that is beyond me. It is then that I can meet life in its fullness. It is what I am here to do.
As I step away from the desk and the orchid (for now), I can face my to-do list and the disturbing news headlines with new energy and capacity and renewed commitment to be fully present to all that is. This abundance of need, hope, and possibility ~ in the garden, in my work, in my family, and in the wider world ~ can be met with clear eyes and a complete gaze. I will return to the orchid when I need a reminder.
Where can you turn for reminders of abundance and capacity?