As I walked, everywhere I looked, images were dancing, and life was talking with the music. One image that was more strange than obvious was on the lower level of a nearby mall. A blank wall that looked like it could be reserved space for a future restaurant. There was no artwork, no signage of any kind. Nothing, except for two potted plants, seemingly randomly placed next to a pillar.
I reflect, feeling their loneliness. They have each other, but little else. They have enough soil to survive. What is missing is community. Bees, other plants, and insects are absent. I have no idea how they can thrive. As the questions piled up in my mind, the whispers layered themselves on, mini reminders shaping the way I see the day ahead.
Community is, for me, essential to living. As important as quietness and solitude are to my recovery, it is in relationships and community life that living unfolds. Isolation, especially extended, is unimaginable. I do not know how I would survive if I only lived in the imagination I find within. One of my life’s threats lies in getting trapped within so I lose touch with those around me. My purpose and calling disappear without community.
Even when one is alone, there are connections. In this case, soil, air, and water are the minimally viable communities required for the plant’s survival. From their appearance, someone is tending these two plants. I suspect the dying plants are removed and healthy ones take their place. The old warning still stands “Well and good. But they were pruned because they were deadwood, no longer connected by belief and commitment to the root. The only reason you’re on the tree is because your graft ‘took’ when you believed and because you’re connected to that belief-nurturing root. So don’t get cocky and strut your branch. Be humbly mindful of the root that keeps you lithe and green.” (Romans 11.20)
Someone cares, even when we feel alone. Like the plants, we belong to something bigger. Their beauty and life are story gifts.