A couple of weeks ago, I started to prepare the many succulents we have in our backyard for replanting. I think the proper word for this is propagate. Those of you who know more about the succulent and cactus world can correct me if that’s wrong, but even though I’m not an expert in succulents, I have learned a little bit and used some methods with success over the past few years. Preparation for this includes trimming off only the part of the succulent that I want to keep to replant in fresh soil. This trimming is pretty extensive because many of the plants we have get rather large and “leggy,” especially since it had been two years since their last trim. Needless to say, there is a lot of plant loss during the trimming and cutting. Buckets of stems and roots get thrown away.
Preparation also includes doing this ahead of time, at least a few days in advance, as the parts of the succulents that are kept for replanting need time to dry out a little bit. There is something about the ends being dry that helps them adjust to the new soil. I haven’t looked up the scientific reason for that, but through reading some propagating articles over the years, that seems to be an important step. Finally, the clippings that have been saved can be re-potted into fresh soil in various arrangements, and slowly, very slowly, they will take root and begin to grow again.
The week that I spent trimming and replanting our succulents, I was struck by these two things:
#1) In order to make room for new growth, a lot had to be trimmed away; a lot had to be lost. Isn’t it like that in our lives? Spiritually, emotionally, practically... Jesus invites us to grow and change, but first, we have to let ourselves be trimmed and cut to make room for the new. We cannot keep it all. We have to let some of the “leggy” parts of us go. The “leggy” parts of succulents may be healthy, but still, they must be trimmed to make room for new growth and better growth.
In my own life, the parts of myself that I feel like I’ve lost, the parts that have been trimmed away either by my own doing or by the circumstances of my life, even the parts that were good, losing those parts has allowed for more space. Space to experience the loss. Space to make a choice about how I will carry on. Space for Jesus to get my attention. Space to grow and produce something meaningful. And the times when I’ve chosen to face it head-on with Jesus, I’ve been led deeper into knowing Christ and knowing myself, which has eventually produced growth that I didn’t know I needed. Jesus can use the loss for new growth because new growth needs room.
I know this concept of pruning may not be new to you - it IS biblical after all - but I so appreciate when God gives me another illustration and experience with Him that brings it to life once again. It is meaningful in a different way in the season I find myself in. Maybe you needed the same reminder today.
#2) Succulents grow so slowly. There is so much patience that is needed when waiting to see if the re-potting of succulents will actually help them grow and flourish for another year. Sometimes I feel unsure that I’ve replanted them correctly. When they do grow and they start sprouting these amazing flowers months and months later, I know that the preparation, the trimming, and the waiting was worth it because the new growth is breathtaking, colorful, interesting, and from the Creator.
The waiting is the hardest part though. So much of our lives are spent waiting. Sometimes there are long seasons of waiting, sometimes short. But there can be and there is purpose in the waiting. Christ reminds us in scripture that there is meaning in the seasons of waiting, just as there is meaning in the fruitful seasons. It is all there for a reason and as part of the cycle of the seasons. In nature and in our lives.
On the day I spent replanting my succulents, I also read Psalm 1. Verse 3 says, “He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.” There are many reasons I love this verse, but that day I noticed the words “in season.” That tree, even though planted perfectly by a stream, does not yield fruit all the time. It only yields fruit in season. That means there are seasons of waiting, of dryness and coldness where there is no fruit, no new growth. But oh the season when it does bear fruit and we can see the little sprigs of green and the small buds pushing out! How glorious is that! It is the same with succulents and it is the same in our lives. If we plant ourselves by the Water of Life, the new growth will come, the waiting will end, all in His time.
This song has been on repeat for me recently: I Will Wait by David Leonard. May it bless you and remind you that the Lord will sustain you through the wait, that new life is coming.