top of page

Succulents: A New Hope

How a new succulent garden gave me new eyes to see hope in my midst.

One of the previous occupants of the Parsonage I live in started a succulent garden. When the plants had overgrown in the section of the yard that they were planted in, then trampled on because of the installation of the new section of the fence last year, I decided to try my hand at making another garden in another spot in the garden. Quick research on Pinterest assured me that even with my lack of skills I could move them easily and they would live.

My efforts were rewarded with the leaves falling off the plants within a week of my handling them, even as others just turned yellow and sort of shriveled. I was deeply discouraged. I had no way of knowing if I had over or underwatered them. I worried about them getting too much sun or too little. I didn’t know how to fix it, but I suspected that my efforts were failing. I was so discouraged and felt so … helpless.

Of course, it was never about the succulents. It was what they symbolized about everything else that was going on. I was trying so hard to make distance learning work, and the churches I serve – well, that was a whole other story. While I could see our churches haven’t exactly been flourishing during the pandemic, I wasn’t sure how to fix it and it totally induced a panic attack. Unlike my succulents, the issues during the pandemic regarding our children, work, church, the malaise of the world – these problems are a lot more complex than getting the wrong ratio of light and water.

God's Surprising Hope

But God surprised me with hope in the most unexpected places. After months of watching leaves droop, drop, and start to decay and wondering whether my plants were going to make it, I realized I had been looking in the wrong place. My eyes had been focused on the old leaves falling off, but I hadn’t looked to the tips of the plant, to see if any buds were forming. And when I looked, there they were. My efforts at readjusting the succulent garden had not been the failures I’d thought.

I know that this has been a difficult time these last few years. It has been difficult to see where new life is emerging in the midst of all the death, closed doors, and mental health issues around us. I don’t expect it is going to get any easier. But what I learned from my succulents is that hope sometimes doesn’t look like the old thing recovering. Dying leaves don’t un-yellow and re-green themselves. Hope, as it turns out, sometimes looks like a tiny new thing sprouting. Isaiah 43:18-19 reminds us: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up! Do you not perceive it?”

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up! Do you not perceive it?” Isaiah 43:18-19

I was so focused on worrying about what was being lost, and whether it could be salvaged, I was NOT perceiving the new thing. But when I started to look for buds, I realized there were tiny new nodes all over the place. And about a month ago, I clapped my hands with joy when I noticed another surprising new place of growth: tiny green tendrils of growth shooting from the edges of the dead leaves that had fallen!

How can we look at our community at our church with a new set of eyes? Rather than focusing on the things which have drooped and dropped, could we possibly ask God to help us notice the new thing God is doing in our midst? Because I KNOW God IS doing a new thing! God is always doing a new thing among us: inviting us to see buds of growth and find places of new life! We just need eyes to see!


bottom of page