Listening Post #11: Amaryllis

It’s time to start watering an amaryllis bulb. These frigid days and deep dark nights create a longing for a few of those startling, extravagant blooms; they’re beautiful reminders that life is lurking  dormant in the earth, waiting to burst upon us when the conditions are favorable. Or perhaps, even when they are not.

A few years ago, a friend gave me an amaryllis bulb, which I dutifully watered throughout an icy January and early February, until three lush, luminous flowers emerged to defy the winter chill for a few weeks. According to instructions, I then placed the exhausted plant on its side on a shelf in my dark, semi-subterranean garage, where I promptly ignored it for over two years. It just lay there, neglected and forgotten.

Toward the end of this past rainy summer, I was inspired to clean my garage one day. The timing was serendipitous, which is to say, pure grace and gift. Buried under a mountain of recyclables and discarded boxes was an amazing sight: the amaryllis in full, showy bloom, surrounded by nearly-white foliage. After a few days in the sun, the leaves turned bright green, and three more healthy, gigantic flowers emerged from the now-thriving plant.

Life has surfaced multiple metaphorical possibilities  since then:  the isolated individual who thrives and flourishes with just that little bit of encouragement,  the growth that is possible in the midst of great  personal darkness and drought, the sheer tenacity and exuberance of life, its capacity to endure and triumph even under the harshest conditions.

It’s highly probable that each of us is personally acquainted with an ‘amaryllis’ like mine, someone  thirsting  for  even the slightest bit  of encouragement to rain down on them, awaiting the generative sun of our attention and affirmation.

Consider planting a bulb for your own joy, nurture it, watch it grow, and then live the metaphor. Water and shine on the life of another, and see the beauty bloom.

3 thoughts

  1. What an amazing, great story about the amaryllis! Today was so cold in the morning but by 2 p.m. it was warm enough, a balmy 30 degrees, to walk the dogs. The birds came to the feeder for a while but for some reason they don’t hang out there much in the cold weather. The seed just sits there. Maybe, like us, they just want to stay where it’s warmer – wherever that is. I wonder about how people and animals are surviving these days – necessity is the mother of invention. Layering clothing works. For those of us who have hot water heat in just a few radiators in the house (with some radiators shut down because they haven’t been “bled” for years, etc) I have found the gas heater can’t maintain the 68 degree mark set on the thermostat. So the temperature in most of the rooms in my row house is hovering just below 60 degrees. I’m grateful it isn’t lower – and

  2. …I didn’t finish the above…continued: I’m glad I live in an old house where one has to be creative to
    maintain a decent life-style…I feel for those who don’t have the means to have that. The cold weather is a challenge for people from all walks of life….and somehow it is a unifier – a reminder of the universal struggle….and when the weather warms up – it is a reminder of how blessed we are…..
    No great thoughts written here – I just wanted to check in with Just Listening – because it has been too long a silence……thanks for listening…..

  3. ohhhh.. I can’t resist this!! Forgive me but I just have to comment:

    See, according to one view, the amaryllis survived 2 years of ‘neglect’ and was still in bloom despite it.

    According to another view, perhaps its because it was left alone for two years, is why it bloomed.

    The first is a tale of survival against all odds. The second reminds us that sometimes we need to leave things, give some space, for life to take its course.

    Guess what, if we take the middle ground we’ll summise that a little bit of both is what makes this life so special.

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