Falling Apart, Withering Plants, Falling Together

Sometimes things have to fall apart so better things can fall together.

I spent an hour last Monday pruning my Tradescantia zebrina, aka Wandering Jew. Started from clippings from another plant, this one has never been as full as the one from which it came. A foot below the soil, the branches and leaves were vibrant. But, at soil level, the branches were weak, and the leaves were like thin brown paper.

Initially, I worked very gently, pulling off dead leaves, tugging gingerly to determine which branches I could remove. I had a small waste can beside me.

That lasted about 10 minutes…at which point it was clear a complete overhaul was needed. The kitchen garbage can replaced the smaller one.

There was some trepidation as so much of the plant fell to the floor. Surely, there would be some branches strong enough to stay. Parts of it looked so pretty, and it was even blooming. It’s a classic dilemma – the healthy parts were beautiful, the unhealthy parts were hideous and destructive. I wanted to save what I could, separate the dead from the beautiful. But each time I pulled at a dead branch, several seemingly healthy ones fell. Very soon, the pot was empty – on the floor was a mixture of very dead and very healthy pieces.

Sometimes things have to fall apart so better things can fall together.

Understand that I had been neglecting this task for weeks. The plant is in a prominent place, and this “deadness” didn’t happen overnight. Numerous times, I have noticed how bad it looked at the top. But, I just wasn’t sure what to do.

So I did nothing.

Oh, don’t we all know that story?!?

I don’t know the techniques used by florists to make the plant full, and I was afraid I would make it worse. And maybe I didn’t want to spend the time. Instead, I watched as it slowly began to die.

I know – you’ve been there. Maybe not with a plant, but with something.

Sometimes things have to fall apart so better things can fall together.

It is rare that anything falls apart all by itself, with no prior warning. A plant, relationship, vehicle, physical body – there are almost always warnings signs. Dead leaves, if you will.

We tell ourselves lies: Sure, that red light keeps coming on – but the car is running well. Yes, I have chest pains often, but I probably pulled a muscle. I know he/she says disrespects me in front of my friends, but there is a nice person deep inside. Yes, I see the dead leaves.

But…you don’t have money or time or the heart. Isn’t that your reason?

I have a friend who drives a beater. Her classic line is, “I can’t take it to the garage because I’m afraid it will cost a lot.” So much better to not take it and have the entire car ruined.

That’s not to say we always stand by idly. Sometimes we do everything we can, and either we waited too long, or there was simply no means of prevention . At which point, we make a decision: go on as if nothing is wrong – ignore the falling apart – or make a change.

What’s that you say? Yes, I know change is hard. H.A.R.D.

And here is the kicker…whether you doing something or do nothing, you have still made a decision.

Sometimes things have to fall apart so better things can fall together.

Yesterday I finally decided to take action with this neglected plant. With the pot empty, and the floor covered with pretty leaves, I had to decide if I was going to save it or bag it.

The decision was easy because the plant has special meaning to me. Besides, Wandering Jews root easily in water. And, with sufficient care, they can also regenerate in soil. I filled two large vases with water and healthy clippings. Then, using a straw, I made as many holes as possible in the dirt. The straw was sometimes met with resistance because the dirt had become compacted. Hmmmm… that isn’t a good environment for plant growth, is it? Funny how you find causes once you start to clean up the mess.

I reclaimed enough healthy pieces to fill all the holes…and for the past 7 days I have been faithfully tending, making sure the soil stays wet, watching to see if those pieces are growing. I have also researched methods for fostering fuller growth, top and bottom.

Sometimes things have to fall apart so better things can fall together.

Granted, most things that fall apart aren’t as easy to bring together again. But then , what value does “easy” have?

Two lessons for me:

1. Had I given the plant this much attention earlier, had I pulled dead leaves as they appeared, trimmed long branches and stuck them back in the soil, loosened the soil to promote absorption of water and air, I may have been able to save myself some work and not had to begin again.

Applicable to many parts of life, eh?

2. Even when things do fall apart, the plant isn’t necessarily dead…and my life isn’t necessarily over. God will still cause the sun to come up, and He will still order my steps.

I will keep you updated on how the plant grows. I believe it will be better than ever!

Sometimes things have to fall apart so better things can fall together.

We will talk again soon…

BP 🙂