Nearly 10 years ago, during a drive through the countryside around Charlottesville, our family stopped at a small nursery set up in a lady’s front yard. There were many pretty flowers on display that day, but I found myself drawn to a large pot that was partially hidden by a bag of mulch. Upon closer inspection, I saw that it contained what looked like a twig jutting out from the soil. Losing interest, I asked the owner what it was.
"A camellia," she said. Camellia. What a beautiful name for a plant. It hinted at something exotic, and lovely, and somehow, from long ago. On impulse, I bought the twig and brought it home.
The next day, riddled with buyer's remorse, I stuck it into the ground, watered it, and then left it alone with a disinterest which was my way of dealing with a lost cause. Eighteen months later, the twig had transformed itself into a bush with dark green leaves and fragrant white blossoms. Camellias. I thought they would disappear after the first time. I felt like a child who had received a treat she did not really deserve. Nevertheless, year after year, the camellias bloomed-- beautiful and abundant. And every year, I felt that jolt of wonder, just like the first time.
But something is wrong this year. Strange growths are taking over the branches, and they look scary. I have looked up what this could mean, and the prognoses range from “not good” to “terminal.” Is a gift worth fighting for when it's no longer free and effortless? Oh, yes.
In the Lord I’ll be ever thankful, In the Lord I will rejoice, Look to God, do not be afraid,Lift up your voices, the Lord is near, Lift up your voices, the Lord is near.
Rowena Pinto Zimmerman