Prayer Plant

I live on the second floor of a twelve-story apartment building that has enough morning light to keep my one indoor plant alive—a prayer plant that seems to live in spite of me. It fans its leaves out in the morning and closes them up at night, most likely praying that I will remember to water it. While I love flowers and trees and vegetable gardens, they are messy and take time, attention and love.

So instead, I watch gardening shows.

From the comfort of my couch, I watch master gardeners and amateur gardeners clear brush, turn over soil, put seeds into the ground and marvel at new life. And the miracle of television is that in one hour, an overgrown bramble of weeds is transformed into a stunning garden—and I don’t even have to get my hands dirty!

But there’s a price to pay for sitting on the couch. By not getting any dirt under my fingernails or communing with worms, I don’t really know first-hand the magic of earth and sun and air and water, the magic of bees and birds and how the whole of the natural world is webbed together. I don’t know first-hand what too much heat does to tomatoes, or that nothing lives for long without water.  

It’s a kind of arrogance on my part—my obliviousness to that what feeds me, that what nourishes and sustains me. Succulent red strawberries, kale, Swiss chard and spinach are planted, tended to and harvested by hands I’ll never know. Sycamores and Fichus shade neighborhood streets and cool hot summer nights. Purple sage, California poppies and night blooming jasmine for pure beauty.

The earth is here with her bounty, a gift to all of us. But not forever. Not if I neglect her. Not if I poison her waterways, pollute her air, or fill her oceans with plastic. She will stop feeding me. She will stop nourishing me with her beauty. And all the prayers in the world will not bring her back.

Time to get off the couch and plant a garden.

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