“Yes, these are for you! Sorry I came so late!”
I sat on the stairs and cried.
As soon as he had come, he left in a hurry, leaving me in my own puddle of tears and the three gifts.
You see, we had moved five times over five weeks into five different Airbnbs, over our epic road trip from the States to Canada, of which during our first night we found ourselves scooping water from the basement home we were in at 2am when a water pipe had burst. In the third home, we found ourselves stumbling in with our crying toddler, our hands busy packing groceries into the fridge and unpacking our suitcases, all before discovering the stove, fridge and air conditioning were not working.
Never before had we yearned more desperately for a place to call home, after having moved more than 20 times over 4 countries in 5 years of marriage.
Suddenly, after the fanfare and glitter of graduation, I found myself floundering in a new role of being a full-time mother without a salary, a pastor’s wife (whatever that meant), in a new land, with a new routine that I had little control over. I could not drive, missed home and felt utterly disoriented.
Then, in what was only called a miracle, we were gifted a new home, a place to call our own. A place we did not have any means or rights to own.
The night we moved in, I sat on the steps. It felt surreal.
When the doorbell rang at 1030pm, I jumped.
There the housing agent was, a frazzled grandfatherly old man, huffing and puffing. I was taken aback- was something wrong? Did we need to move out? Again?
Looking quite comical with his hands full, he panted, “I’m sorry I came so late- but I overheard you telling the previous owner of the house about how much you loved her orchids. So I got some for you after my work ended! Enjoy!”
Just a day ago, we had found contractors working away at our home. “What are you doing?” I asked.
“Oh, the housing agent asked us to fit a brand new air conditioner for you as a gift for you and your family,” they said.
I found out it cost more than $3000.
As I sat on the stairs, overwhelmed by the orchids, the air-conditioning in a scorching summer, and our first real home, I couldn’t hold back tears.
The orchids could not have been more timely, not only as a thoughtful housewarming gift, but as a gift from God for what they represented.
Just a week ago, I had asked the previous owner how she had cared for her orchids.
“Oh, it’s very easy,” she said. “You just water them once a week. But know this, they bloom for three months and then lie dormant for three months. Most people throw their orchids out when the flowers die, but they actually do bloom again after three months if you water them. I’ve had mine for ten years.”
All at once I had goosebumps, as I felt God speaking to me about this new season- that it might not be one of great fanfare or outward productivity like it was back at Hopkins, but it was an important one nonetheless- one that would grow one’s roots deep, that was regenerative. A season of rest, but not death.
Nonetheless, it was painful.
Suddenly, for the first time in a long while, I found myself on the receiving end of remarks that stung and a different kind of store service because I now go out with a toddler in my lululemons, occasionally stained with mini yoghurt handprints. I have felt the tangible difference between the eager conversations at shops when I still went out in a blazer and my power suit, and now.
But I had never changed. I was and am still the same me, only perhaps more compassionate, less judgmental, more forgiving.
In the same way, just as how my orchids which bloomed for three months are now withering, they are still alive, growing.
They are in a different season, but they are the same orchids nonetheless. And while people may treat us differently and stop watering us as eagerly because of the different season we are in, I am learning, that God does not see us differently.
He loves us in the times when we bloom and flower, and He loves us in the times we need to wither and lay low.
So if you’ve been struggling with a dormant season in your life, frustrated that nothing seems to bear fruit, know this- that it is too soon to throw your orchids away. Keep watering, keep waiting. Remember all the times He came through for you, the unexpected gifts He delivered to your doorstep, and more.
For at the end of this season, will we not see and enjoy yet another season of greater beauty, richer grace and deeper wisdom.
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.
Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away;
and every branch that bears fruit He prunes,
that it may bear more fruit.
– John 15:1-2“