I’m back after an unplanned 6 month hiatus. Why was I gone so long? I’m not sure… sometimes the journey of crossing oceans and bridging cultures is too raw to put in writing for the world to see. Other times I’m journeying alongside someone else’s story that is simply not mine to tell and I seek to honor them by guarding it. Perhaps most often I hold back because I’m afraid I might hurt someone. Issues of culture, ethnicity and reconciliation are so sensitive and must be handled with attentive gentleness. I fear that my words could be unintentionally hurtful or misconstrued and cause someone else pain. I need courage to write again and the wisdom to know how to craft pieces with creative care.
I am a novice blogger, 2 years into an experiment, 50 blogs down. I am encouraged by my 8 followers, half of whom I’ve never met. I’m grateful for the 1,479 visitors from 45 countries who have visited from lands as distant as Timor-Leste, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and the Congo. Perhaps in the next year, that number could double! Then this blog could continue its mission of crossing oceans and bridging cultures.
How can I capture the last half-year? I planted a tree.
There’s the tree. Since I was a wee one, I’ve had a thing for Plumerias ever since mom stuck a fragrant blossom in my hair on a beach in Thailand and dad snapped a photo. Plumerias remind me of vacations to South East Asia when we woke up to the sound of screetching monkeys, took an elephant ride, rode in narrow boats along a canal buying strange and wonderful fruits at the “floating market”. Plumerias remind me of adventures in my childhood, delightful discoveries, and the journeys I have yet to take.
A year ago I bought my potted Plumeria tree from a sweet Japanese auntie on another side of Honolulu. She was going on an extended trip and needed new caretakers for her precious plants. Arriving at her townhouse I found pot after pot of flourishing greenery and vibrant flowers, evidence of a green thumb (something I hope to one day possess). Though I came for the plants, I received hospitality. I was welcomed into her home, heard her story, and was loaded up with her homemade mango jam. When at last I’d made the terribly difficult decision of choosing 3 plants to buy and loaded them into my Subaru, she tenderly touched each one and bid them goodbye. For a woman who had never had children, these plants clearly held an extra special place in her heart. I resolved to be a great plant-mother and make her proud!
I may not have done as well as I hoped. Now that a year has passed, only 2 of the 3 plans remain. I neglected to water them all enough and only the fern and plumeria have forgiven me. At my last house they remained potted in the constant uncertainty of whether we were staying or leaving (you can read that story here), and when we were settled once more in our new house, I was determined to put them in the ground.
Roots… they hold us somewhere, provide nourishment, and continue to spread until they hit a boundary. Though I’m no botanist, I knew my Plumeria tree would only remain 3 feet tall as long as it was in that 14 inch pot. I longed to put it in earth and see it reach its branches to the sky like hands stretching to heaven and grow to its fullest potential. Perhaps one day another mom and daughter would pick its blossoms, stick them behind their ears and capture time in a snapshot.
I am that Plumeria tree. I have taken up my roots, bound them in a pot, and transplanted from one land to another. If I have intended to come only for a short-time it would be best to remain potted, and yet my growth would have its limit. But if I went though the painful process of breaking out of my pot-sized comfort zone and sunk my roots into the soil of the land, perhaps I would grow and flourish beyond the limits of my imagination.
And so I planted the Plumeria. That same day, I bought a “new” car, celebrated 4 months in my “new” house, 10 months with my Hawaiian Church ‘Ohana, and went out for a celebration ice cream treat with my boyfriend, a local guy. After 2 years living in my island home, I put down more roots and decided to stay a while. How long? I don’t know, but I put down roots. Will it hurt to leave? Yes, much worse than if I was still potted. But better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all (Alfred Lord Tennyson).
I am here to learn, to grow, and to worship.
I put down roots.