November 17, 2021
Reflections, Day 40
“Art does not exist only to entertain, but also to challenge one to think, to provoke, even to disturb, in a constant search for truth.”
― Barbra Streisand
I really don’t know what led me to turn down that old country road a few years ago, but I’ll never forget what happened. That experience reached out to me once again yesterday.
It was a red chert road, punctuated by small white rocks. There were drainage ditches on both sides. I drove past woods and a few pastures, and there were some dilapidated old farm houses that looked like they had been vacant for a hundred years or more. Just as I was beginning to feel lost, I saw a sign that read, “Plants, next left.” I’m a sucker for a plant nursery, so I started looking for the next left turn. I was getting impatient about four miles down the road when I finally saw another sign that read, “Turn Left Here.” Of course I turned.
It was another couple of miles before I saw a neat, well-kept plant nursery on my right. A little bridge took me across the drainage ditch. I parked my truck and got out to look around. A voice said, “Hi, John, we’ve been expecting you.” I turned and saw a small man with grey hair and a ponytail smiling at me. “Hmmm,” I muttered to myself, “I really don’t believe shit like this.”
I asked, “Do I know you?”
“No, but I know that you’re the guy who is building the meditation garden at Myrtle Hill Cemetery. Melissa has been waiting for you.”
“Melissa?” I asked.
“Yes, come over here and I’ll introduce you to her.” I followed him to the back of the plant display. He picked up a nice plant.
“This is Melissa Limelight,” he said with a smile. “She wants to be in the garden and she will sing for you.”
“She will sing?”
“Yes,” he replied. “It may take a few seasons for you to learn how to listen, but she will sing you a low, sweet, love song.”
I have met some great salesmen in my life, but this one was amazing. I took the plant, of course. He didn’t charge me anything for it. As I was leaving, I leaned out the window and said, “You didn’t tell me your name.”
He smiled, “No,” he said, “I didn’t.” He turned to begin watering his plants.
I planted Melissa Limelight in a prominent place in the garden. There were actually three plants in the pot so I planted them side by side. Every fall, for a few years, I pruned the plant so that it could reach out and really grow. She never sang for me
Until this year—This year she grew quickly and fully. She reached her many branches into the air and made large, beautiful flower balls. She became an obsession and I began to go visit her often.
And then I heard it. A low song began slow and soft and then it became a beautiful song of rejoicing. It became a song of pure Joy as Melissa Limelight sang happily to the sun, following it in its journey across the sky. It wasn’t that she had learned to sing, it was that I had learned to listen.
I visited the garden this morning. Melissa Limelight was quiet. She had gone to sleep for the winter. It was time for me to trim her in preparation for her summer concert next year. I worked with a smile.
I have tried several times to find the road to that nursery so I can thank the old man but it’s like the road doesn’t exist. I guess I’m just getting old and forgetful.
There is magic in that garden