My Lesson From An Unstoppable Amaryllis

Some months ago, a dear one gave me an amaryllis bulb, ready to plant. I thought I knew the drill: About three months before you want to see a beautiful flower, you place the bulb in the plastic pot provided, cover it with the bagged potting soil, water it, put it in a sunlit room, and wait.

I love these flowers and was overjoyed with the gift. I planned to plant the bulb just before Christmas so I'd have blooms in the late winter. Enough gorgeous blooms to get me right through my impatience for those first greening crocus shoots outdoors.

Today I discovered - again - that lessons come unexpectedly and unbidden.

The bulb, still in its box, has been sitting in my kitchen as I watched the calendar, cleverly timing my planting and procrastinating just a wee bit. These days, time seems precious; it's easy to yield to the pressure of counting each moment, scheduling, worrying, and squandering opportunities for simple joys.

So on this planned and scheduled morning, my "to do" list whirling in my head, I happened to look at the box as I moved it to make room for that day's mail. Green-yellow caught my eye through the two holes in the top of the unopened box. Thinking this odd, I turned the box on its side and looked in the two holes in the side. Red. Faded, but definitely red, showed through. I knew without opening the box what had happened.

Sure enough, inside were an empty plastic pot, a sealed bag of potting soil, and an amaryllis bulb, roots on one end, a scruffy bent stalk on the other. At the end of this stalk were four red blooms, perfectly formed around the head, crunching into the space allowed by the confines of the box. The leaves were just apparent near the base of the bulb, ready for after-bloom growth.

There it was, my lesson for the day. My lesson for longer, if I'm wise enough. My calendar, my schedule, my expectations and demands, my neglect were simply inconveniences in the face of the greater requirement: Grow, live, bloom. The plant had followed a higher law. It overcame the obstacles, adjusted as needed, and simply did what it was supposed to do. Color, shape, size notwithstanding, what I had there was a lovely plant, come to fruition without soil, water, space, even light.

When I think of it, life abounds in such examples. From lost pets that find their way home, to pioneer women, soldiers on the battlefield, slaves and prisoners of whatever ilk - everyone and every thing that transcends their circumstances and blooms.

Remember the lovely slogan "Bloom where you are planted"? I've always liked it. But now I stand corrected. The imperative is much simpler, as I've learned this morning. Just "bloom."

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