How does one cope with natural disasters of the worst kind? Or of being surrounded by the threat of violence? Well, I can only speak for myself…I focus on the beauty around me: flowers!
When I ventured to Haiti with a team after the earthquake struck there, we traveled through roads cut through mountainsides. Boulders the size of mini Coopers often blocked our lane, forcing us into oncoming traffic. The problem was the drivers coming at us often couldn’t see ahead around the bend. My fellow passengers and I feared our hearts wouldn’t survive the trip.
Some folks meditate, and some folks would @#$% their pants on that trip. I chose to focus on the hillside. I saw hibiscus plants the size of trees. I tried to spot flowers instead of oncoming vehicles. We arrived intact. And, my underwear remained clean!
Another mission trip involved a trip to Honduras with my friend, Sharon. The government of Canada’s website on travel to Honduras warned, “Every man in Honduras carries a gun, knife or machete.” Well, that was rather blunt! My friend and I were off to La Ceiba, which held the highest murder rate for any city in Honduras, which had already earned the distinction of having the highest murder rate of any country in the world.
Of course, I was nervous. However, I delighted in our homestay. While there were bars on the windows,
a locked gate
and ferocious-looking dogs, there was also a courtyard full of tropical flowers, especially hibiscus.
For safety, I imposed a curfew for us for 8 pm. You see, we liked to hang out at a nearby café which had Wi-Fi. When gunshots were heard at 7:30 one evening, I asked Sharon, “Mind if we revise our curfew?”
The beauty of the La Ceiba balanced the horrific violence of it. We loved the flowers and the peace within the courtyard.
On a day off, we thought to lie out in the backyard, to have some privacy from the honking traffic, while catching some rays. As we unrolled our beach towels onto the concrete patio, Sharon spied an extremely large and ugly spider! Yikes!
Our homestay hostess told us of a resort hotel about a half hour’s walk away. We went in search of a place without spiders. The resort was an oasis in this city of poverty.
By purchasing a drink, we were permitted to linger a few hours amid the beauty.
Again, it was the hibiscus and other flowers that brought me joy and helped me overcome my anxiety concerning the dangers of Honduras.
Every year since, I’ve tried to get my hands on a hibiscus for the summer. Some summers, I’ve managed to keep the hibiscus alive over winter and it bloomed the following summer. This winter, my plant had a nasty bug infestation. I sprayed it, cut it back and it’s now fuller and healthier than ever. But, no blooms yet. Maybe, it’s just a late bloomer.
For Mother’s Day, one of my daughters gave me a gift certificate for a greenhouse. My sister accompanied me there to buy a new hibiscus for this year. I felt happy with my daughter’s gift as I was holding myself to a tight budget for gardening. I had convinced myself I didn’t really need another hibiscus.
My sister found a pretty hibiscus for $19.99 which would be covered by the gift certificate. Except, I didn’t care for the colour. It was an anemic salmon shade. The hibiscus plants in my memory were vibrant!
My sister set off again. She returned with a smaller version of the tall plant, in a brilliant shade…for $6.99. I told my sister, “Perfect! I’ll take three!”
And, that’s how I ended up with three blooming hibiscus plants…
and one shy non-blooming one. They remind me to seek out the beauty in this crazy world of ours!