It’s no secret around these parts that I am partial to Phil. He is my Philodendron plant, which I have managed to keep alive for over six years. This might not be a big deal to the average reader but given how many African violets have perished at my fingertips, it is certainly encouraging.
Our four children have flown the nest, but my goodness, the nurturing instinct does not up and die when a mother’s children are grown. It is a God-given bent, and therefore a good one, I believe. So now I nurture in other ways, one of which is tending to our small flower garden, and Phil.
Three years ago, when we moved from Florida to Virginia, we maxed out every square inch of the moving truck. I admire those incredible people who are able to move swiftly and neatly, with everything perfectly boxed and stacked, hands free to hold the steering wheel or perhaps a book.
This has never been the case for us, and more often than not we have been smooshed uncomfortably as we travel from one home to the other, appearing as though we have been pulled through a knothole. This was very much the case three years ago, and when we had finally shoved every last thing into the nooks of the moving truck and our personal vehicles, I noticed that my husband had placed Phil on the sidewalk.
I’m sorry, Kristin, but there is no room. Don’t worry, I will buy you a new plant when we arrive in Virginia.
I stared at Phil, and then at my husband.
But I love Phil. He has been with us for years. Actually, I am willing to leave any piece of furniture behind before I leave Phil.
Jon looked at me as though I had gone mad, not even realizing until that moment that I had actually named this plant, while simultaneously assessing that I was an exhausted mess after having packed up our entire house.
Long story short? Phil survived and became a Virginia resident.
For the following two years, this plant remained centered upon our dining room table, alive, healthy in appearance, yet not really growing. I began to wonder if he needed more water, less water, better soil?
I didn’t change anything but kept wondering.
When we bought our new home over a year ago, I did a bit of research, and chose to remove my plant from his current soil, carefully washing off all roots, and tenderly placing him in a ceramic pot of water, which I have hung in a macrame hanger from my office window. This space is flooded with ample morning sunshine and filtered, afternoon light.
And that is when everything changed.
This philodendron grew by leaps and bounds.
In fact, he continues to grow, and one leafy tendril is now over two feet long, hanging pretty as it stretches toward the morning glow of light streaming in the window. His roots have also grown lush.
I have snipped off the abundance of leaves, and they are flourishing in other little jars and planters. A few are on windowsills, and they too are reaching for the light.
I have worn the same brand for the past six years, taking long morning walks each week. These times are good for my body, soul, and mind. I feel the presence of God so clearly as I exercise outdoors. It is my favorite time of the day.
I wear my sneakers to a fare-thee-well with so much walking, and when the soles begin to thin, I hop onto Amazon dot com and order a fresh pair. Typically, I go through two pairs per year.
A few months ago, with the soles worn down, I opened my Amazon account to reorder. As I did so, the same brand sneaker in a different model captured my attention. A newer model. A model with more cushion in the heel. Same price, with a few additional features.
I recently turned fifty and figured extra cushion might not be a bad idea.
So I went for it.
A week passed of wearing this newer model, and all was well until one morning, when I felt a slight pain in my heel. I pushed along, imagining that I had perhaps walked too far. I ignored it and kept going.
With the heartache of a long, stressful summer combined with the mental fortitude it took to simply carry on with life in general, I did not connect my heel pain with my new sneakers for the longest time. My mind was terribly distracted. I simply kept walking, until one night I couldn’t take it anymore, and bought a stretching boot and ice packs, while downing two Advil.
The next morning, it felt a touch better until one mile in, when suddenly the pain returned and I didn’t know if I could make it home. I limped back and rested for a few days.
It wasn’t until a month of this that I considered that my problem might be the new sneakers. And by this time? Both heels were aching.
I couldn’t return the used footwear, so I spent more money and purchased the old model. The relief was immediate. Everything felt better as I walked.
I consider my spiritual walk. Like Phil, there are times when my growth becomes stunted, and I must consider what I am doing to nurture my soul. Have I lapsed in those deeper spiritual disciplines? How may I walk more fully in the light of the Gospel, growing deeper, healthier, more mature roots? Has darkness crept in with unconfessed, unrepentant sin? If so, it is time to delve deeper into Scripture, lingering closer to God while saturating my mind and soul with his Word, allowing the Holy Spirit to work, scrubbing my heart clean.
And like those new sneakers, I am again reminded that newer does not necessarily mean better. The spiritual disciplines of Bible reading, prayer, and gathering together with the church body, have not changed. We are prone to imagining that there are fancier and more cushy options, but there are not. Culture is always changing, but our God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
And the surviving remnant of the house of Judah shall again take root downward and bear fruit upward.
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2 thoughts on “Of Philodendrons & Sneakers”
Blessed by these analogies. Thank you for taking the time to write them for us.
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