My husband and I often wondered about our very young Bougainvillea plant. “Is it dead or alive?” or “Does it need more water?” We could never figure it out until one winter morning when my mother-in-law, who was visiting, decided to see for herself. She had always been great with plants and took to gardening and smartening-up our backyard during her stay, which was much needed!

That winter morning the Bougainvillea caught her attention, and she walked over to inspect the plant. It was dry, leafless and without a sign of life. She decided it was dead and with her gloved hands, she tugged at it hard so as to weed it out. Inside the house, we were clueless about the happenings until she walked in puffing slightly, “I’ve finally uprooted that dead plant!”

We told her she shouldn’t have exerted herself and could have called for our help, but she was quite satisfied with the accomplishment and so were we. We went out to see our backyard all neat and tidy. The Bougainvillea seemed to hold together despite being uprooted, and we left it there for weeks not bothering to trash the plant. Months passed, my in-laws were long gone, and our backyard became a mess–a dwarf orange tree in much need of nutrition, a baby saguaro needing transplanting, two potted rose bushes needing water and a lemon grass plant growing out of control. The winter grass needed care too, and of course the Bougainvillea mess had to go. We decided it was time to sort things out in the backyard and began the long but satisfying process. Soon, our backyard came alive with color. The last thing left was cleaning up the bougaenvilea.

As we approached the plant, we noticed some green. Looking more closely, we even saw a fluorescent pink flower or two. “How did this plant survive being uprooted, not watered and neglected for months,” I though to myself. “This is crazy!” But the evidence was there before us. The Bougainvillea was alive and flowering! So we decided to let it be.

Soon, summer was upon us. The desert sun shone brightly through the clear blue skies, and the bougaenvilea thrived under its relentless watch. As I observed the blooming plant, I remembered an advice I’d almost forgotten, “Nature has much to teach us.”

Despite all the neglect, the Bougainvillea came through strong, and despite the desert heat, it gave us flowers, adding bright hues to an otherwise sandy desert palette. How many of us can survive being scorned or neglected by friends? And despite that, how many of us can resist anger or depression and develop our personalities well, so society is benefitted? The answer isn’t important, but the lesson is.

Nature teaches us strength and survival. If our roots are deep like the Bougainvillea, we too can bloom into beautiful human beings. If we strengthen the roots of our hearts and listen to our spirits, then no matter what calamity befalls, it does not affect us. We remain content within ourselves always.

“Weapons cannot cleave it, nor fire consume it, nor water drench it, nor wind dry it.”

This is the quality of our spirit, and perhaps we can imbibe it by observing the omnipresent miracles of nature.

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  1. This is a lesson we can apply to bringing up a child too. Very often we find that today’s children are so overmonitored and overpampered , especially since most couples have only one or two children. This is not to say that you neglect the children , but certainly draw a balance, once they grow up. If proper values are inculcated when they are young, they will flourish at the end , even if they make a few mistakes and learn from them , because their roots are strong and deep .

  2. Amazing hw often we as people seemingly “die off” in spirit, then over time something occurs within that leads to a refreshing of our spirit. The shoots of new life burst forth and we emerge from dormancy discovering the world again in all it’s beauty and wonder. Really lovely piece with great food for thought, thank you!

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