With all the ‘remembering’ of 9-11-01, I find that I grow weary and sometimes forget what it is I am supposed to remember. All the getting older jokes aside…it really un-nerves me. John Patton, in his book Pastoral Care in Context, talks about ‘re-membering’ people and events back into your life – not to make sense of them but to rest and converse with them from time to time. While the images of the burning towers or the jumpers conjure up fear and tears – sometimes remembering the other, more positive realities of an event or a personal loss can be freeing and rejuvenating to the spirit.
This is where Laura’s plant come in. Briefly, Laura (one of our our youth) in a congregation I ministered with in Illinois, died in a tragic car accident along a familiar country road – she was 16. Following the funeral, her Mom presented us with one of the plants from the plethora of live plants and ceramic angels showered on the family in their loss. That was 2002 and the plant – a vigorous house plant is still with us (if you knew how many times we’ve moved – it is also a symbol of resilience). It is a daily symbol of life, of regeneration and demonstrates to us the hope and deep connection that still thrives in the hearts of those of us who remain, while our loved ones are fully embraced by God as they rest.
This concrete, real, living ‘thing’ is our conduit for ‘re-membering’ Laura and her family into our lives. Sometimes leaves fall off and and at times we have cut out dead branches, but overall the plant that grows well, green and healthy. Lately, however, there is a section that needs to be pruned back. I don’t know why I think that is does – probably my propensity to make things look fitting for the place (our living room) in which they reside. For the past several months, this ‘side’ of the plant has grown outward more than the rat of the plant and it looks out of place, un-kept and is not symmetrical – not sure but it might tip the whole plant and stand over by the weight.
Regardless of the gravity or appearance issues…I can’t seem to find the gumption, the courage, the guts to prune it. So, Laura’s plant is intact. In my head I keep hearing the Beatles song – Let it Be! My heart listens and I walk past the plant every day and let it be. It’s mission, after all, is to embody a memory, reveal its own beauty and give me pause to remember. Perhaps in all the struggles of life – the joy and the sorrow – the tragic events and corporate grief – Laura’s plant is a reminder that we should never prune things to make our current reality more appealing or balanced than God and the events of life themselves intend for it to be. Thanks Laura for giving me another lesson in life and how to better cope with the events that shape it.