As I was walking the gardens today, I realized that it was three years ago today that I returned home from the hospital after undergoing the surgery that changed my life (if you don't know about my story, you can take a brief detour by clicking here to read it).
After making that realization, I went to the sheltered edge of the pond under the pomegranate bush and found the kalanchoe that lives there in a pot ever since I brought it home with me from the hospital 3 years ago today. It was brought to me as a gift by the president of the women's organization in our church congregation--the Relief Society. She brought it to me shortly after I came out of surgery. The kalanchoe's bright red blossoms formed a round orb of color that had brightened my hospital room for those days of initial recovery.
The kalanchoe now has a permanent home in the garden. Even though it's supposed to be a houseplant grown in the nonfluctuating climate of the home or a greenhouse, I chose to keep it outside so our plant-munching cat Dee Dee wouldn't destroy it. The kalanchoe spent its first winter in the open-sided shed (that is now long gone). After the frosts of that winter I moved it out to a partially sunny location next to the pond-water's edge where the shade of the plum tree and pomegranate would protect it from the summer's intense sun.
When the next winter came, I didn't move the pot. It stayed there through the frosty coldness of December, January, and early February. The insulation of some overgrown grasses around it had protected it. It has survived all frosts since then.
I still don't know how a sensitive plant like that makes it through the cold winter months but it always does. And it always blooms when the warmth comes--even if it hasn't ever been quite as showy as the first day I saw it.
The kalanchoe, and its ability to weather the cold and the storms despite all evidence that this plant variety shouldn't be able to withstand them, is a miracle to me. It is a reminder to me that miracles, large and small, happen in our lives everyday. We are only privileged to witness those miracles if we open our eyes and hearts to see them.
The kalanchoe is like many women I know. They survive amazingly difficult and insurmountable trials in their lives despite all evidence that they should not. And those women continue to bloom again and again, often very privately. Even though the trials are bound to continue to come, they survive. And even though their blooms may be less glorious than in years past, they are blooming nonetheless. And that is the miracle.