I’ve never had much of the so-called Green Thumb. Then again, I’ve never really attempted to cultivate one either. But I have had a grand total of one plants. A bamboo plant, or three bamboo shoots actually, in a little panda bear bamboo pot. And I have loved and cared for this little plant for the last four years. But now my little bamboo is gone.
The bamboo was a gift. In the summer of 2009, the church I was pastoring set up a booth at a local town festival, and the booth next over housed a lady selling various faux-brand-name bags and so forth. She also sold bamboo. From day one I loved the bamboo and was planning which to buy. Then on the last day of the festival, the chair of our board, knowing how much I was looking forward to getting one, got it for me. It was a gift given in appreciation for all the work I had done to make our own booth a success. For the next three years, that little bamboo provided a little spot of green in my office. As we gathered there for meetings and counseling sessions, small talk would often latch onto my plant. My little plant. The only one I ever had. But now it is gone.
Man, did I love that little bamboo plant. Honestly, truly, sincerely. I received so much joy from it. I’m not making this up. I would sit in my office from time to time and just watch it. Looking forward to seeing it grow. Moment by moment. It was green and it was real and it was alive and it was producing oxygen and it was making me smile… But now my little bamboo plant in the panda bear pot is gone.
I think what killed it was the heat. Concentrated heat boiling down on it in my tiny Lawrence House apartment. My post-pastor, post-office, post-air-conditioned life. That’s what killed it. I thought it needed sun, so I set it on the ledge of my only window. But we’ve had some hot days this summer and the open window just wasn’t enough. Even the breeze was scorching. So as the summer drug on, I noticed it beginning to brown and wilt. But as I tried adjusting my care package, the damage crippled every little off-shoot to the point of decay. And then it was gone.
Almost. As I moved out of Lawrence House this week, I was going to throw the little bamboo in the dumpster. With a little ache of melancholy in my chest, I paused for a moment of thanksgiving in a season of bamboo grief, and embraced the inevitable conclusion that the circle of life must take my panda bamboo to the Great Dumpster in the Alley. But then I had the thought!!! Maybe someone else would like to give my plant a second lease on life. Someone with skills greater than I. With a little greened soil on their fingers. So as I was moving the last of my things out yesterday, I set my companion in the window sill by the elevator for the free taking of my neighbors. And I continued on with my emigration.
A few minutes later, ten maybe, standing next to the elevator with the down-button pushed, the 19-year-old girl who lives three units down from mine–the one with the boyfriend who makes French fries at McDonalds, I heard her door open as she came running to catch me. “Is this your plant? Don’t you want it anymore!!?? Can I have it???” Face beaming, she bit her lip and looked about to shed a tear. This little bamboo, alive and green would be perfect for her apartment. So alive and so green. She would water it and care for it and nurse it back to health. And it would keep her company while her boyfriend worked the fryer! How wonderful! And she scooped up her little bamboo plant in the panda bear pot, gave me a big hug, and ran home, unable to contain her smile of joy.
I returned to my elevator and once again pushed the down-button. Turning to the empty window sill, I watched a fallen brown leaf teeter on its edge. I shook my head. The gladness of my heart formed a smile on my face… Because my little bamboo plant was gone.