Opinion: Hope and leaves grow again

A little less than a year ago, my sister-in-law gave me a fiddle-fid tree for my birthday and it was kindled. I’ve always liked them in garden stores and have been wanting to have one for my home for a while. I’ve found an unexpected lesson in watching it over the past year. (Meghan Zag)

A little less than a year ago, my sister-in-law gave me a fiddle-fid tree for my birthday and it was kindled. I’ve always liked them in garden stores and have been wanting to have one for my home for a while. I knew they had the potential to grow over six feet tall and live for 25 to 50 years.

I’ve owned a few small plants here and there before, but they usually die soon after I buy them. I have the opposite of a green thumb, whatever that is. But this time, I promised myself to keep my little tree alive.

When she gave me the tree, it had lots of lush green leaves and seemed eager to grow. I said to myself, “Perfect.” Maintenance appears to be relatively low. After all, trees grow on their own in the wild all the time, right? (Botanic lovers and connoisseurs are already laughing at me.)

A little less than a year ago, my sister-in-law gave me a fiddle-fid tree for my birthday and it was kindled. I’ve always liked them in garden stores and have been wanting to have one for my home for a while. I knew they had the potential to grow over six feet tall and live for 25 to 50 years. (Meghan Zag)

In fact, it did quite well in the first few months. I watered it periodically whenever I thought about it and it didn’t change much until winter came.

One morning, I noticed that the leaves were starting to fall in bunches. What does that even mean? Was she dying? Did you get rid of the foliage just because it was winter? I really had no idea. I was worried, I asked everyone if my factory was finished. Most replied, “That’s relatively normal, just watch it.”

So I did. Soon a few new leaves grew back in place and I was satisfied for a while until the leaves started to lose their shine and fall off again.

Maybe you need to redo the pot? I went to Target and bought a nice larger pot I thought the tree would like. I moved it, added new soil, and watered it, hoping it would immediately cheer up and grow 7 feet overnight.

Much to my dismay, all but one of the leaves fell off.

I said to myself, “Now you really killed him.” Once again, I reached out to all the plant experts I know and they reminded me to be patient and said eventually the leaves would grow again. Apparently, fig leaves are known to be a bit dramatic. I can relate.

Deep down I doubted she would survive. Every plant I had before my tree died. Every morning I glanced at the little one-leaf wonderland and lost hope that it would continue to grow. My husband encouraged me to leave it in the pot, and said honestly, “It will grow again.” I wasn’t sure I had the patience to wait for it to grow again, which was probably a metaphor.

Losing papers and losing hope

As the months went by, I seemed to lack hope in more areas of my little tree. As a journalist, I spend a lot of time immersed in current events. Many of you probably know that many of these can be heavy and hard to recognize: wars, betrayals, death and disease. It’s the name of the game with journalism and I love the profession so I keep going with the hard stuff, but that doesn’t make it easy to absorb it on a daily basis.

I’ve also experienced some personal disappointments as well and left feeling a bit tired.

I looked at that last little leaf that stuck to the fig leaf and felt the same.

I am a religious person, so I began to wonder what the purpose of chaos and pain in the world is. I knew there I was His purpose—it was hard to see.

I think this life is a growing opportunity. We take on challenges, learn more, and become better versions of ourselves. I also think some relief from the difficulty won’t come until much later. However, in the midst of this whirlwind of global chaos, she sensed that perhaps none of it would come until much later.

Most days I feel like a god could He helped me, but I often wondered if he wanted to.

One night I was talking to my husband about some of my feelings. Why do bad things happen to good people? Why does suffering last so long? Why is there so much pain in the world? Why am I so powerless to fight any of it?

Why do I feel despair?

In the middle of the discussion, my husband paused mid-sentence and said, “Meghan, look at your tree!”

At first I did not see anything. Only the same bough the twig sadly pretends to be in the pot. I looked closely and saw the tiniest little burst of green sprouting from the top of the tree: a new leaf was growing.

I actually laughed—there was something ironic about discussing despair and anxiety the same night my desperate little tree decided to sprout a new leaf. Then I started thinking about it a little more.

It was not so much a sign from God as I felt a calling from Him. As if he was reaching out and saying “Yes, the leaves are growing again, and yes, I am still here. Please keep trying.”

So I kept trying; I made some modest changes to my prayer and started incorporating other things into my life that I knew would help me.

grow again

Now, I’m not telling you this story to make you believe that everything miraculously changed overnight. The pain is still there, the disappointment is still there. Good people still go through bad things, the loss is still very real and I still spend a good portion of the day learning all about it. But good people do wonderful things too, bad people change and God’s hand is still outstretched to anyone who needs it – and it is all of us.

It was a personal miracle that I felt like my heart had finally changed. A hidden glimmer of hope, but a familiar one, is back miss He. She.

What I can say is that yes, the leaves are growing again… and so is hope.

– Megan Zag

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