Plants have begun to take over my home. Orchids and succulents, air plants and vines. I’m running out of surfaces to put them, but I’m just in love with the element of earth, and life they bring to my precious-little space in Capitol Hill. I never squeeze more in than there remains space from which to admire them — because they are living too, and need room to breathe.
Having such a tiny apartment has been a gift. As I look around me, the only things that fit are the few that survive the many moves I’ve made over the last dozen years. Each belonging is a story, a memory of a dear person. And I am aware in the little temple that is my home – a temple because it is where I worship – what an influence those around me have on my life. How my tastes and my pleasures change, because of others.
So many of the articles I see around me now, I did not love immediately — being originally the selection of someone else for me as a gift. Even those articles I loved immediately upon sight, most I would not have selected for myself, because of the rut I am in called my Personality.
This fact: that others have stretched my boundaries for acceptance, then enjoyment, and ultimately happiness, deeply enriches my life. The delicate antiques from Jessy, the unadorned hour glass from Missy, with whom I have taken turns influencing and being influenced in my interests so often that we cannot tell the origin of some of our shared loves. The first plant I’ve owned and cared for from Natalie, and a skull potter, watching like a sentinel in my room, from Erika. I say it is from Erika; it was bought by me but inspired by her conspicuous way of cherishing skulls, influenced primarily by her childhood in New Mexico. This ceramic skull pot reminds me of my education, my faith, and now her.
You see, I was raised a Catholic Christian in the South, and educated lovingly. I accept the label of Catholic, as well as the labels of many other faiths and systems of beliefs, which I practice actively, and see as overlapping each other. When I was young I frequently saw saints and philosophers depicted in art, holding a human skull, pondering the finite quality of our physical lives. Saint Francis of Assisi specifically, patron saint of animals, morbidly carried a skull around through his paces on earth. To Socrates is attributed the phrase and practice of Memento Mori, a solemn reminder that our human lives are but brief.
If we attach much of our identity to the physical characteristics of ourselves or our experiences, it is my perspective that something significant is lost. There is that which is the essence — I think of it as the expression of god in each of us. But many other layers are added onto that essence of us through the course of our lifetimes, like film pasted over and on top of that essence. And these crusts we sometimes assume are essence, but they are changeable. What’s at the source? Even the root of the essence? It’s always the same source for all of us — the same wellspring for any living thing. Goodness, wholeness, health, radiance, pure love.
I am a lover of plants, animals, and people alike. On a micro and macro scale, it’s the differences that bring me joy. The marvel is that, in Truth, all differences are “skin-deep”, as they say, and the essence is a common Source, known by whatever name you use to revere that Goodness.
I hope we can bring light to the dark areas of our world gently, and with kindness, as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr said, so that suffering will end. Most of the time, I try to do that in my being, as I’m not much of an activist. But sometimes, “when necessary” as St. Francis said, I use words.