I want to tell you a story.
Once upon a time there were two people who were deeply in love...with gardening (and also each other).
They loved to grow things and cultivate things and watch things thrive.
And so, one day in the very earliest part of April, when they happened upon a grundle of five inch potted tomato plants on sale for $2 each they decided to snatch 'em up and take 'em home (well 10 plants anyway, they do have limits).
But, April is still sometimes a bit cold for tomato plants in Utah (which is where this fabulous couple lives) so they carefully placed the plants in a plastic tray and dutifully put them out in the sun each day and took them inside to keep warm at night. Happy plants. Happy people.
one fateful night when the couple had some friends over for dinner and they completely FORGOT about the tomato plants and left them out languishing in the evening air all night long.
And even then things probably would have been fine if Mother Nature wasn't such a sassy snot sometimes and decided that this exact night was the perfect time for a very late falling of snow. Tormentress!!
When the wife woke up the next morning she suddenly remembered...Oh no! The Tomatoes!
She quickly brought them inside and was not particularly pleased with what she saw.
Although the plants were still green, they were limp and ploopy. Many of the leaves had black sections on them, the branches were all flacid and most of the leaves were folding in on themselves.
An hour later, things were even worse. Sad, droopy, wilty plants huddled broken and dying on the kitchen table.
For several days things got worse and worse each day. The plants turned brown. The leaves fell off. It seemed like complete death was waiting on the window sill. Several people told her it was hopeless and advised her to throw the plants out and start over.
But the wife refused to give up. She loved these plants. She hoped she could help them.
She noticed that the stems of the plants had stayed green and fairly firm despite the sagging mess of ex-greenery around them. And so she talked to the plants each time she walked by (to the hysterical delight of her family) and watered them and cared for them as best she could.
And slowly, so slowly, something started to happen.
New little leaves began to sprout from each of the anguished plants.
And from there on, they got a bit better and a bit better each day until a few weeks later she was confident enough about them to move them out into a more permanent (and less likely to be hit by a random ball or other toy) home in the family garden.
And that's were they are now. Sadly, two plants did not survive and once planted in the garden they slowly withered away.
However, the other eight are thriving.
In fact, this.....
...is the bowl of tomatoes harvested just this afternoon from the one plant that has started to produce (the others have green bulbs growing on them, but none have gone red yet).
And perhaps it won't surprise you to learn that I am actually the forgetful, sings-to-her-plants wife and that these lovelies are in fact my very own tomato plants and also the fruit of my patience and hope.
Possibly, it will also not surprise you to hear that I think that this story applies to much more than tomato plants.
I think sometimes cold, dark nastiness sneaks up on us in life (or the people we love) and catches us unprepared. It might be in the form of financial struggles or health issues or family problems or fear or hate or anger or addiction or anything in between. And whatever it is assaults us and tries to tear us down. We might wilt. We might shrivel. Parts of us might be deeply scarred or forever changed. We might not be the same person we were before. We might be hurt and injured and crying.
For every one...EVERY SINGLE ONE...there is still something beautiful and alive and amazing hidden inside. It might be hard to see beyond the wounds. Someone whose sight is more limited might advise us to just cast this one aside and start over or look for another or just move on or give in or give up or whatever else, but don't do it!!! There is still something incredible within. There is still some piece of green that can hold strong and come alive again in time.
And with a little bit of care and love and watchful attention you might just get to see it bloom.