I was given an amaryllis for Christmas this year–a common present for a person who doesn’t need anything in particular. I have been surprised at the emotional response I have felt at watching it grow. It is like a new friend who is sharing secrets with me.
In the box was a plain, white ceramic pot, a disk of what looked like a thick coaster of compressed pencil shavings, and a dried-out bulb the size of a large onion. Two pale nubs, like giant fingernails, stuck out from the bulb, and only their waxy fullness showed that the whole thing was not completely dead. But what a difference now that I’ve added water, set it in the window, and waited a couple of weeks.
When I put the disk of shavings into a cup of warm water, it expanded into more medium–it isn’t dirt–than would fit into the pot, even without the bulb. I made a hole in it for the bulb and packed the damp medium around the bulb, letting the nubs and the collar of wrinkled skin stick up into the air. It didn’t look promising.
Two or three days later, the nubs turned green and then grew so fast I could almost see them stretching, half an inch or more a day. Now the flower stalk is up, the bud like the head of a crane taking off from a lake.
Just add water. That’s all I have done, add water and made a small space for it in my life amidst the clutter on my desk at home. The life force in the bulb has done all the work. I’ve seen these bulbs in the stores after Christmas, sprouting out of their boxes where no one is watering or watching them. They strive for life, growth, bloom, fruit. but with no care, the leaves wilt and die. They just need a bit of water and light.
What about that life force within us that strives to bloom, to push up out of the boxes where we are stuck, waiting for someone to put a little water on us?
Unlike bulbs, we can do this ourselves, by watering our inner spirit with listening, in silence, with natural sounds, with soothing music, with time to let the spirit move–spirit needs exercise as much as body.
The life force is there within us. Our beautiful flower waits impatiently to burst forth and stretch to the light, to open to share fertilizing ideas and interaction with other spirits. It wants to bring forth its fruit, a quickening of renewal.
Marion Woodman says that people who turn to drugs like amphetamines and cocaine are looking for light in their darkness, that people who abuse alcohol are looking for spiritual peace. How much spiritual damage starts with lack of water from ourselves, from our families and friends and institutions that claim to support us?
I think much of the spiritual starvation of our times is based on the substitution of spiritual snack-food bumper stickers, artificially-sweetened platitudes, and over-processed entertainment that keeps us perched, dried out, on top of in our compressed disk of time management and frenetic activity. No water is there, or only water that is contaminated with the equivalent of high-fructose corn syrup, artificial colors, and unpronounceable preservatives.
Listening is water to the spirit. Listening takes time and space away from the clutter of the modern world. Writing, drawing, playing music, walking in nature, practicing craft, stretching talent, petting the cat or dog, doing the work at hand, all of these things water the spirit if done with intent to listen, for spirit strives toward the light, towards life.
Spirit is waiting to talk. Are you listening?