“Oh, my goodness! It’s gorgeous!”
My husband, Steve, had just come through the door carrying a glorious display of orchids. He had been to the silent auction at church, a fund-raiser for the scholarship fund. I had stayed home, grounded by a cold.
“Karen donated this to the auction,” he explained. “I thought you’d like it. ‘Might make you feel better.”
Karen and her husband owned a nursery business. Each Sunday she created stunning floral arrangements for the altar of our church.
I took the shallow dish, and turned it slowly to enjoy the full circumference. Dark green leaves created a frame from which the slender stems rose. Fresh, pink and white blooms draped gracefully from those stems. And small, round buds promised more beauty to come.
But even as I was admiring Steve’s gift, I was already getting nervous. Plants do not do well in my care, unless they’re the hardy-type. I had never owned an orchid before. Too fragile for me.
So, a few days later when the cold cleared out of my head, I checked online for information on orchid care. Here’s what I learned: indirect sunlight, normal to warmer-than-normal household temperature, normal to higher-than-normal household humidity, water thoroughly only when surface of medium becomes dry.
I walked through the house, looking for the perfect spot of indirect sunlight. There wasn’t one. I ended up parking the plant on the floor of the foyer, the only place where it would receive consistent, indirect light. Actually, I need to clarify further: The perfect place was in the middle of the floor. The corners were too dark.
Can you picture it? A plant. Smack-dab in the middle of the entryway floor.
Watering was another issue. How much is thoroughly? I certainly didn’t know.
I could have called Karen; ‘just never got around to it.
But perhaps I decided it wasn’t necessary. The orchid seemed to flourish. Each day I would check it, to see if the fir bark medium was dry. When watering seemed called for, I’d add flowering plant food, just the way the instructions suggested. Oh, and I’d turn the plant, too, so it would grow evenly.
For six weeks I lovingly cared for that orchid. I was so proud of how healthy it remained.
Then it was time for me to visit my parents, brother, and his family out in Texas. I left careful instructions for Steve–written out–about watering, feeding, and turning the orchid.
Several days into my visit, during one of our phone conversations, Steve asked me about the orchid.
“So, what am I supposed to do?” he asked.
I wanted to say, “WHAT?! THE INSTRUCTIONS ARE ON THE KITCHEN COUNTER! WE WENT OVER THEM BEFORE I LEFT!” (You can read that with a bit of a huff. I was feeling huffy.)
Instead, I breathed in some extra patience and started to explain.
“Even if it’s silk?” he innocently inquired. Then he went on to explain, “I ran into Karen after church and told her the orchid was still looking great. She said that was because it wasn’t real. They’ve expanded their business to include silk florals now.”
So much for my blooming horticultural skills.
I had been operating under a delusion, and wasting time, effort, and concern on something that WASN’T. EVEN. REAL.
* * * * * * * * * *
Time has a way of slipping by. Days blur into years. Life comes to an end.
On that last day, will I be able to say I spent my time on real things of value?
Will I be able to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant!…Come and share your master’s happiness (Matthew 25:21)?
Oh, Lord, guide me to recognize those things that are important to you. Turn me away from pursuits that have no real, eternal value. I want my time and effort to be spent on worthwhile endeavors. Life is too short to do otherwise.