The first time I saw it was two years ago. The image lives in a deep place in my heart.
I had gone for a walk after a morning filled with tearful prayer for a friend whose need felt bigger than my faith. My heart ached for her. Somehow I thought the fresh air might clear my head and provide me with a better perspective.
Along my path stood a tall palm tree looking like a carefully wrapped gift with slender ribbons and a big bow.
The delicate white orchid seemed to hang effortlessly to the palm. I was so stricken by its beauty I ran home for a camera. On my way back I tried to figure out what I’d seen. I wasn’t sure if the roots ran down the tree to reach the soil below or if it was drawing life from the tree itself through some sort of parasitical relationship.
I learned what looked effortless, really was not. The orchid had been intentionally placed on the tree by a gardener.
The mounted orchid’s life was not coming from the soil OR from the tree. The tree’s only role in the relationship was to receive the ornament. And the only job the orchid had was to cling. Over time the orchid’s roots had become one with the trunk.
Life, I learned, was given by the air it breathed and any mist it was exposed to in the humid climate of Kauai.
Down the street I saw another attempt to decorate a tree with orchids. Lots of string and tape were used to help the orchid learn to cling.
I thought about my desperate attempt to help my friend that morning. No matter how much compassion or prayer I offered, my friend’s situation had not changed. She needed more than I was able to give her. She needed – air, mist, life.
We can be the tape, wrapping our arms around our friends – helping each other hold on tight.
I appreciate my friends, who like tape and string, faithfully hold me to the tree when I can’t. I feel their loving arms around me when my grip wants to fail.
What an incredible Father we have who sweetly speaks through our surroundings. His language is rich and diverse. He paints his words through living examples all around us. And what a good Gardener he is to showcase our lives in just the right places as he sees fit.
The orchid is my gift. It’s a beautiful reminder he can be trusted. He will send the proper mist to my friend’s need when the time is right. In the meantime it’s my privilege to help her cling.
I am one piece of tape, while….
“Jesus is the true vine and our Heavenly Father is the gardener – apart from him, we can do nothing” John 15