Gratitude: The Orchid’s Third Year

By Barbara Howard of Independence, Missouri, USA

The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it…  Psalm 24:1

The orchid is blooming! This is the third year, and it promises more blossoms than ever. The plant, from a beloved friend, teaches me every day about the power of a disciple’s generous response.

The plant each year has offered blossoms, reminding me of the wonder of God’s creation. I have simply kept it moist through the non-blooming season.

It was gift, just as my life is gift. The abundance that surrounds me continually reminds me of God’s grace, freely shared through creation and through community, offering me opportunity to respond, to keep alive by my response.

When the orchid first came into our home I hoped it would last until winter so the friend who gave it to us would not see how hard I am on plants. It defied my lack of horticultural skills, and in the second year new blooms smiled at my amazement.

It was if it were saying, “Look what I can do with so little.” I said a prayer of thanksgiving, smiled back at the beautiful, blooming orchid, and resolved to be more generous.

Whenever we give, the gift transcends our intentions or imaginings. Some joyful offering may change a life, help start a community, bring a new sense of freedom. Any time we give in the spirit of thankfulness, whatever we give exceeds our fondest hopes.

I can nourish my orchid by keeping it moist, keeping it in the light, and acknowledging its beauty daily. I can nurture beyond the walls of my home by a grateful flow of diverse responses to God’s grace at the heart of all life.

Prayer for Peace:

Lord of the Earth and everything in it— flowers and creatures, great and small—may we care for what you have given us and give back to you by being generous.

Spiritual Practice:

Inner transformation can take place amid daily activities and work. Try cultivating the spiritual discipline of grace and acceptance while weeding the garden (if you have a garden). As you pull each weed, offer a short prayer. Tug. (God remove from my heart all prejudice and fear.) Tug again. (God, keep me from making unjust judgments.) As you remove the weeds, continue praying. (Plant in my heart the seeds of your love.)

Try this kind of transforming prayer while engaging in repetitive activities or work (washing dishes, cleaning the floors, mowing the lawn).

Peace Covenant:

Today, God, I will be aware of the needs around me and make a joyful offering that may change a life.

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