I like to observe and study nature, especially the coastal rainforest where I grew up and lived for 45 years. I really believe that nature can model how we should live. The other day I was so surprised by the work of nature right in our house. I cleaned up one of the gardens in the yard about 4 weeks ago and one of the plants in the garden was Autumn Joy Sedum. I picked a little flower head from the expiring plant to display in a miniature vase that my daughter had made me. The vase is so tiny it barely holds any water but nonetheless I put a few drops of water in the vase to keep the flower head from fading too quickly. I left the rest of the plant in the ground with its flowers, because as the name of the plant denotes, it is a joy to look at in the Autumn. It gets sort of pink through the end of the summer and then in fall, its colour turns anywhere from a pale red to a blazing red depending on the weather, soil conditions and the like. I thought I would allow the plant to fade in the garden and bring as much joy to us while it could. After that I planned on removing the growth and allowing it to sleep for the winter, readying itself for new spring growth.
So, was I ever shocked when I went to remove the little vase and discard the now very faded flower from the bathroom windowsill. As I was preparing to throw the flower in the compost my partner said, “hey, did you notice what that flower is doing?” I looked more closely wondering what he was talking about. As I looked more closely at the flower, I noticed a tiny little bit of sprig of green along the stem. The cut stem had used the little bit of water I had placed in the vase and whatever nutrition was stored in its narrow stem to grow a network of new white roots and a minute burst of new leaves. Wow. I was so amazed. This little bit of a plant piece had managed to muster up new life with very little water or light and in conditions very different from where its mother plant was growing.
So, this has got me thinking about how nature will model how to live, solve problems and create unique solutions to problems that seem unsolvable for humans. If a tiny little piece of a plant can be taken from its parent, given totally different conditions to live and very little nutrition and still throw off new life what can we learn from this?
My big question these days is, how can we honour our elderly, sick and disabled to allow them to contribute, feel inclusion and live with dignity? Things in the natural world are created less than ‘perfect’ sometimes, they grow old and die eventually, but how does nature model this process? What I witnessed with this tiny little plant was that nothing is useless. It may not be as vibrant and colourful as it once was, but its fading beauty can still send out bits of colour and life. This causes me to ask myself, am I looking for the beauty and wisdom in the disabled and elderly? What can I do, just as nature does, to honour and respect that all forms and stages of life have a purpose and a reason for being?