There is a lot of talk these days on the social networks about 'branding.' I'm not exempt from exploring this and claiming a few talking points of my own. But I'm a cautionary luddite, often turning back, or turning away, from the proverbial Ark like Indiana Jones and Marion. The Spirit of the Lord wipes out those who wish to possess power only belonging to HIM. To say it's important to consider what image we embrace, by what name we call ourselves, is quite an understatement. Our identity is to be found in Christ alone. And I will carefully walk into the statement of opposition, by saying, but we are also instructed in Scripture to live in the world- being not of the world. I would say, in a thesis- style statement - Romans 12:1-2 puts things into perspective with a nod to a common hashtag and philosophy #growthmindset: any wave of transformation must be tempered and guided by the renewal of our minds saturated with our identity unwaveringly in Christ.
While ancestory.com would state that I am a true 'Georgia Daughter', I only moved back to Georgia in 1995. The 'Peach State was in full bloom during the Olympics and so the branding was wild with logos teamed up with the American Flag and the Olympic symbol. Later after having lived in Georgia for a while, I took note when the Three Pillar logo and Arches that symbolize the State's motto, 'Wisdom, Justice and Moderation,' were replaced throughout many governmental agencies about 2012. They were replaced with a Peach symbol looking more like a lottery ticket than a noble state symbol. No discussion about the number of streets named for the great fruit is necessary to make the point of association about the peach with Georgia. Yet, it would seem that the peach is illusive in its level of excellent production, and is really a misnomer. Truth be told, it would seem that the greatest export in the Peach State is blueberries and the fried favorite- chicken for processing. I can validate the seemingly uselessness of the peach tree as a producer, having one in my own yard that might be more accurately called an ornamental tree. But there it is. When we wander to far from the truth, or wishing something was so, we find ourselves backtracking, or trying to shore up the ocean-like binder of false evidence with a toothbrush, just to keep its secrets. Sometimes it is easier to stay with the narrative - false though it be- than to try to correct all those street names or modify all the stationary with the glow-in-the dark peach symbol.
The University of Georgia is home to the State Botanical Gardens. I'm blessed to have created a habit, even tradition of visiting there on special occasions and periodically through the week. It is altogether lovely but it is an informative and grounding experience in the natural legacy of our state. It shares well the native plants and offers the novice gardener an experience in education they don't even realize they are receiving, repetitive observation being one of the most effective learning tools ever. To walk through the garden, one begins to see the plants that grow well together and isn't misled by extra carpet-bagging plants. But there is one- one that shamelessly declares its lack of authenticity out loud, right there next to native iris and lily. False Indigo is one of the loveliest plants I've seen. It's stems are delicate and its leaves are soft, rich and supple. It seems to behave like a succulent, needing little water once its established. But it knows who it is. It makes no claim to be true 'Indigo,' and no one expects it to be.
I bought a small planting of this truth telling plant a few years back, got it in the ground as fast as I could and with all the business of life, promptly forgot it, and chopped it down with the weed wacker. Oh my, that was a sad day. I knew it wasn't an expensive investment, but it was a neglected, misplaced plant. On a birthday visit the following spring, I found it with in the Botanical Garden's native landscape-- I almost wept., well, I think I did inside. This plant was huge. The realization of what could have been in my yard was only a stump of a plant that I'd under appreciated and almost lost to regular maintenance in my front and shaded garden. It was rooting quietly underground in all the wrong place. You know what I did-- I moved that beauty to a new place in the yard, taking care to get it started properly. I had run out of space in my primary garden, along the sunny fence area and needed more room for the sunny blooming beauties that now enhance my view from the garage. This plant is thriving now. My False Indigo will take a little while to be a good comparison to its cousin at the Bot Garden, but its got time and space and a gardener who respects it for being just who it is. I cherish it and notice it every day.
"Stories remind us and give us the metaphor we need to cope."
While this may be a story of plants, the garden is a constant metaphor for life. Sometimes we are trying to hard to be a peach when really we are a blueberry. We keep trying to adapt to the soil or the light where we find ourselves, trying to be content as we should, but really there's an entirely different place (literally or figuratively) we will thrive if we can gather up our roots and give the new place in the garden a try. We may have bought the false narrative for so long, that we can't even find the way back. But I think that False Indigo has even proven that nothing is hopeless. The Great Gardener is always looking for the plant out of place, buried deep within the earth, pressed down and invisible. Not every bit of the new growth from my newly moved plant has thrived this season, but I see next year as something I won't want to miss. I'll have to wait, but at least I can wait in hope and confidence. Taking the first step in knocking back the weeds and pruning back the false narratives can push us into a place that growth that, like the False Indigo, will be entirely to the glory of the Original Gardener. I believe the faithful Creator looks at us as precious when He sees us move beyond surviving-- and embrace thriving, just as He designed us to be.
|False Indigo, State Botanical Garden at UGA|