I recently visited South Carolina during a week without rain. You cannot make your way through this coastal state without encountering the grandeur of the oak trees. I have often admired the canopy of oak-lined Carolina avenues, both in movies and in rare visits, but this time I learned something new about the foliage that adorns the gracious branches. Resurrection Fern, I am told, grows along the sprawling arms of the oak trees, giving them their mossy, draping character. Whether the ferns are parched brown or vibrant green, however, depends upon the weather. When rain has been scarce, the fern hangs brittle and colorless, appearing to have lost all chance of life. But to the delight of southerners, rain promptly brings these ferns back to their full glory. Resurrection Ferns get their name from the way that vibrant green returns to the plant with a simple drink of water.
How very much we can learn from Mother Nature! When we lose our own vitality, when our heart still beats but we nonetheless feel dead inside, when our relationships wither on the vine, it can feel as though our very life breath is gone. But can we not, like the Resurrection Fern, find our way back to life? When you look at your life, what color do you see? What needs watering?
For me, in recent months, I noticed that the color in my marriage was fading. We were committed, hard-working, responsible to our family and to each other. Love was there, but drain was settling in. Void. Flatness. Loss of life. My husband asked if we could go away together. I resisted. Our daughter, I protested. Soccer season. Work. Finances. More life drained away as he lost hope in the wake of my rebuff. But an opportunity came, and it was as though God was saying “No excuses, I have removed the barriers. GO. Water your marriage. Water your own heart. Water your body. Spend time with me and with each other.” So, I surrendered. We boarded the plane, left our family and jobs and dog and home in the good care of loving community.
And several days into a vacation for two, amongst the lush green woods and the sparkling ocean on the South Carolina coast, we started to get our color back. Like the Resurrection Fern, we began to rediscover our true hues. What had begun to look lifeless awoke again and we not only gazed upon one another with fresh eyes, we gazed upon a love that arises in sweetness when we tend to it with care.
Take a look at your life. What color do you see? What needs watering? Is it your body? Your friendships? Your thirsty soul? Your marriage? Think of the Resurrection Fern. Is the good stuff in your life, the stuff that rests upon the oak tree of your work and your responsibilities and your labors suffering from lack of water? What needs watering to once again find its color?
We sometimes give up hope, we forget that part of us that believes in resurrection. We settle for resignation. We busy our lives with shoulds and have tos and the tasks right in front of us and we forget that eternity, hope, the promise of new life is set within our hearts. We forget the power of watering to refresh our own souls, our relationships, our homes, our creative capacities. Take a look at your life. What color do you see? What needs watering? Dare to hope today. Dare to look at the withering, dry, and colorless places and risk giving those places a drink. Watering does not require a week-long vacation. But it does require a decision. A surrender. A step forward in courage by believing and hoping that what we plant will bloom if we water it. Take a look at your life. What color do you see? What needs watering? Make the phone call. Set the date. Take the walk. Sit in the sun. Invite the dialogue. Reach for the hand. Trust that like the Resurrection Fern, love has an inherent, powerful drive to grow, to survive, to find it’s way to life again. What needs watering in your life?