Orchids

Last year my son bought me an orchid for Christmas. It was a fairly tall orchid, with a long slender stem and 5 magnificent flowers. When he gave it to me the flowers were in full bloom and they lasted for absolutely ages before gradually fading one by one and eventually dropping gracefully off. Having never owned an orchid before, I dutifully looked up what to do with my orchid and followed the instructions that I found, which said to cut the stem half way down after the last flower has fallen.

It was around this time, that whilst out watching my son play football, I spotted another orchid that someone had left next to a rubbish bin. There were no flowers on this abandoned orchid and although it was simply a small stick, stuck in a disposable plastic cup of dried dirt, I had a sense of rescuing something that was very much alive. I carefully picked it up and put it in my car. When I got home I put my newly acquired orchid next to my other orchid on the kitchen table. My partner said, “It’s a shame that orchids are so ugly when they don’t have flowers” and he was right. When there are no flowers on an orchid they are pretty much just a plain old stick: sure, the leaves can be seen as beautiful, but nothing stands out at all about an orchid that is not in bloom, and what’s more, there is no indication whatsoever of the beauty that lies within.

The kitchen table is where I have most of my meals and for as long as I can remember, when I ate by myself, I would eat in front of the computer. To be honest I never really gave it a second thought, I simply saw it as an opportunity to get stuff done. Recently however, I had been noticing more and more the mild palpitations that I felt in connection with getting what I perceived to be ‘my work’ done. There is not one single moment that our bodies are not reflecting how we are feeling back to us – even in sleep the narrative continues. There have been times, for example, that I have peered at my computer screen through smeary glasses or perched uncomfortably on the edge of a cushion, the anxiety that pricked away at my chest combined with an insistent drive to keep ‘moving forward’ seemed to prevent me from pausing for a moment to either clean my glasses or adjust my cushion, however the fact of the matter is, I could have chosen to care for myself at any moment, it’s just that I didn’t.

As a result of my increased awareness around my anxiousness, I made what for me was a radical decision: I chose to stop having my meals in front of the computer and chose instead to start having them with my orchids. Now initially it was me and a couple of twigs, one whose splendour was known and the other that was, at this stage, still somewhat of a mystery. With each meal that I had, I would sit and observe the development of my orchids. It was my rescued orchid that showed the first embryonic signs of life and I was fascinated to see that my original orchid responded within days with its own tiny stirrings.

With the first glimpses of the flowers came another realisation about the level of anxiety that I felt on a daily basis. I noticed that although I was now choosing to sit and eat without distraction, I barely managed to swallow my last mouthful of food before I was scraping my chair back and launching myself into whatever I perceived needed to be done next. On realising this, I chose to shut my eyes soon after swallowing my last piece of food and to then physically surrender my whole body as deeply as I could. I did not sit for long, but it was long enough for me to feel the skin on my head sinking back towards my muscles and my muscles sinking back towards my bones, as opposed to the usual panicky petrification that I felt as my muscles sprang away from my bones and my skin leapt away from my muscles.

Over the next few weeks my orchids and I continued our slow unfoldment. Each bloom seemed to have its own independent sense of timing and yet the synchronicity between the blooms was evident. I could sense that each flower was involved in its own development and that although it had its own unique relationship with itself, it still remained very much part of the whole plant; this included the other flowers, the stem, the leaves, the roots and the soil, as well as the water that it received from me. I also got to feel how I was part of the process too, whether I chose to use filtered water or water from the tap, how often I watered my orchids and the energetic quality with which I actually poured the water.

Each bloom was radiantly beautiful in its own right and once opened seemed to stand in almost regal stillness. Eventually, over many weeks, all of the blooms on both orchids were fully open and the effect was nothing short of spectacular. My rescued orchid turned out to be a glorious purple and it had a holding quality that reached deep within my body.

The glorious detail with which orchids reflect the most intimate parts of a woman’s body is for me symbolic of the fact that orchids serve as a gentle reminder to both men and women of the femaleness that lies equally within us all. Every orchid silently conveys the vast stillness that makes up the very fabric of our being, yet despite the great beauty that each and every orchid reflects, it is but a mere fraction of the unfathomable and unwavering beauty that is inherent in us all.

By Alexis Stewart, Care worker with the Intellectually Disabled, Yoga Teacher, Mother of a Stunning Boy, Partner to a very Tender Man, A Woman who is finally remembering who she is, Sydney, Australia

Related Reading:
Nature: The Ultimate Reflection
Nature – Life – Responsibility
All of nature is here to support us to return to who we truly are

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574 thoughts on “Orchids

  1. Beautiful Alexis what your words have helped me see is that every part of life actually carries with it this meaning, this symbolic reading for the way we are and how we choose to be. How crazy it is that we sit around and say we don’t know what’s true or quite what to do when everything around us is telling and showing us all we could ever need to know. It’s just up to us to remove the 2D glasses that say life is just a series of events and unfortunate circumstances. The truth is what occurs every day contains so much potential healing and learning if we are just willing to accept the multi-dimensional quality of being a human being. Then we truly flower.

    1. We are all our own gardener, we can either choose to remain a potbound listless plant or a truly magnificent flourishing bloom. The choice ours and only ours and that choice is made up of a million, trillion moment by moment choices.

  2. Alexis, I can so relate to looking through smeary glasses and having a pain in my right shoulder while working at the computer but pushing through anyway because there is work that needs to be completed. I can see the patterns that I use that keeps me in the momentum of lesser and small rather than claiming myself fully. If I did this there would be no pain in my shoulder.

    1. What I am finding Mary is that when I communicate with my body that I do not have enough time, then that is exactly what I receive and conversely when I communicate with my body that I have oodles of time then that is also what I receive. How that looks practically is that I rather mechanically choose to ‘be able to’ stop and wipe my glasses or stop and sweep the kitchen floor before I go on my computer and as a result, time has started to morph and I am experiencing more and more the feeling of spaciousness.

      1. Thank you Alexis, this is so true. I can still sometimes feel that pressure and tension in my body about the tasks I have to do in what appears to be limited time. When I look back I can usually find how this has happened and it is because of how I have been managing my time in the first place. As soon as I let go of the constricted feeling things begin to flow again and sometimes come together quite magically “in no time at all”

  3. I am so delighted you made the choice to give up the computer while you ate, for if you did not , the beautiful unfolded story would not have been told thank you and thanks to the Orchids.

  4. This was gorgeous to read again Alexis, nature offers us so much. I had a spider friend who took up residence in my pergola, she was quite a large specimen and each night she came out to sit in her web, make repairs, and nourish herself. During the day she found a quiet hiding place away from the web where she would flatten herself and stay safe whilst she deeply rested. She also never squandered energy when active at night, and after making web repairs (which were fascinating to watch with amazing skill) she would be very still in the web, enjoying the breeze, and although she would not catch prey for days, she simply repeated her cycle, undisturbed, and never wasting an ounce of her energy. She eventually moved her web as the location was not fruitful, and the third time she moved it was into the neighbours yard so I lost contact, but she taught me many lessons on stillness, timelessness, the simplicity of a cycle, and the enjoyment of being.

  5. Just gorgeous to read Alexis, how nature reflects so much by way of its unfolding beauty, so many lessons are on offer for us when we connect to and observe the magic of God at play in nature, and feel its reflection in our being.

  6. I too love nature and the lessons that are always readily available to us. I moved in with my partner close to a year ago now and in his courtyard there is a pot of lavender. When I first arrived it was dried out and my partner wanted to get rid of it but I persisted. I have been watering it and trimming its branches and just a few weeks ago it started to bloom. When we tend to our gardens like we do with our daily lives we begin to see magical changes and the loving reflection our movements then offer are simply awesome.

  7. There is such a rhythm and a flow to your orchids and you Alexis as you both unfolded together- what a gorgeous reminder to allow ourselves the time and space to deeply rest in and with ourselves and in doing so I can feel how we can sink more deeply into ourselves … your description of the skin on your head dropping and you dropping reminds me of how anxiousness keeps is off centre and off rhythm and by taking time we can change how we are with this.

  8. So love reading this again, I think it’s my favourite because of the quality you write your observations in, I can see it as a little animation movie. It’s so tender and sweet.

  9. Thank you Alexis. Today reading this article I really got how anxiousness can pervade our lives and we can live with a low grade of anxiousness that is not obvious until we start to stop and feel more deeply what is really going on. This parallel of rescuing the orchid and in a sense rescuing your self is very lovely and I have now put one of my orchid plants on my kitchen table to remind me of the stillness that you reconnected with as you sat with these beautiful flowers.

    1. I like how you read Alexis rescuing as a rescuing of herself. I absolutely agree. She saw the beauty that is within in the non spectacular thrown away green. In honouring it had the chance to come out and reflect Alexis in her beauty.

  10. This blog is pure exquisiteness, Alexis. I’ve enjoyed a lot reading it. What you share here is deeply felt through every word and every little tiny moment you describe. Time literally expands when we take the time to feel and honour what we feel, and nature is a great reflection of that, as it remains gently still in it’s unfoldment… just like your orchids and our true nature

  11. I find the true beauty on offer in the world is found in our observations of it and what is so delicately expressed here Alexis is how through our observations we see just how honest the world is and how much we can learn about ourselves within the reflections we observe is truly breathtaking,

  12. It is beautiful, as you used the reflection of that beautiful plant to slow down and feel and connect to yourself more. I also love the reading from you about the orchids- we have 4 orchids at home and I love the miracle, when new blossoms start to grow out of the “boring” green leaves. It shows a consistency and grace and that it does not need much to be the most beautiful flower.

  13. I rescued an orchid when I first read this article and have been waiting and watching for it to bloom again, I reckon it is a slow bloomer, as yet, no sign of a green leave let alone a new blossom!!

    1. Hmmm Mary-Louise, I don’t profess to being an orchid expert but the lack of a leaf might indicate that it’s beyond rescue? From memory the orchid that I rescued did at least have a leaf. I’ll be fascinated to see if you are able to resurrect this guy.

  14. How deeply we are graced in each and every moment should we take note and the potential forever remains for us to equally grace all others with our divine quality lived.

  15. I love this blog Alexis and it’s a delight to return to. Being the owner of now three orchids, there is plenty of potential to witness cycles and unfolding – that of the orchids, and that of me.

  16. The orchid has come to be a symbol of a throw away society now. They are readily available in supermarkets, being an item that garners pretty good margins I imagine, and so once the flowers are gone I would assume many let them go to the bin. But if they have the right light, and are cared for, they will bloom again. Kind of like us.

  17. Personally, orchids are up there as my favourite bloom, precisely for the reasons you so beautifully describe – the element of surprise at the beauty that bursts from within the unremarkable stem, the elation at noticing the first bud – a sign that life is an unstoppable energy, the awe at the revelation of their striking, differentiated beauty once in full flower and above all the grace in their stillness, delicateness and boldness. They reflect a woman’s qualities, particularly her cycles – and it would be worth us considering leaving them to do their thing and return to bloom another day before we so readily consign them to the bin.

  18. Beautiful sharing and it supports me in going deeper within myself, my body was loud and clear already for some time and today I came to a stop, I allowed myself to feel my delicateness and the stillness that is always on offer the moment I choose to connect.

  19. Your delightful blog got me to pondering on how often we judge another person by their outer appearance especially when “there is no indication whatsoever of the beauty that lies within.” How different life would be for all of us if we allowed ourselves to connect to that inner beauty first with the knowing that this person’s essence is as divine as ours, even if their outer countenance is trying to convince us otherwise.

  20. Your words here Alexis remind me today how seemingly small choices to make a simple change can have a huge effect. It’s gorgeous to read here how you bloomed as your orchid did in front of you. Life is not real the way we think it is but carries great metaphors for us, to return to the truth of who we are. The more we learn to understand, read and nurture this the greater we will grow.

  21. “There is not one single moment that our bodies are not reflecting how we are feeling back to us – even in sleep the narrative continues. ” So true Alexis. I love how life reflects back to us what we need to look at – and then we have choice – do we learn and evolve or stay ‘comfortable’ with how we have lived previously?

  22. The words you write….”There have been times, for example, that I have peered at my computer screen through smeary glasses or perched uncomfortably on the edge of a cushion, the anxiety that pricked away at my chest combined with an insistent drive to keep ‘moving forward’ seemed to prevent me from pausing for a moment to either clean my glasses or adjust my cushion.” have such huge significance as this holding/freezing in time while still moving through it is what causes all our strains, accidents and further anxiety I feel. We feel that uncomfortable we do not even dare relax for a second as we are in a constant state of dis awareness and anxiety….. Awesomely captured and put in words!!!

  23. “The glorious detail with which orchids reflect the most intimate parts of a woman’s body is for me symbolic of the fact that orchids serve as a gentle reminder to both men and women of the femaleness that lies equally within us all.” This is so very powerful as I too love to observe the depth, detail and simplicity of an orchid and the stillness they possess. A gorgeous reflection for us all.

  24. I really appreciate this blog about Orchids, They are truly beautiful plants with extremely delicate flowers and they seem to thrive in my house. There is a short period of time where there are no flowers but I can always see when the next flower stem is coming and watching it slowly grow and unfold is nothing short of a miracle for me as I am fascinated how it knows how to send out a flower shoot and not an aerial root? When people say to me they don’t believe in God, I have a really hard time understanding that because the magic of God surrounds us. Just watching the cycle of my Orchids from flowering to dormant to flowering is watching the magic of God.

  25. Alexis what a beautiful blog, reminding us all that beauty lies forever within just waiting for it’s time to blossom.

    1. We contain the most glorious and unlimited array of wondrous flower beds and yet choose to keep the same old decaying cut flowers in our ugly vases. When we eventually come out of our stupors we’re going to wonder what on earth we’ve been doing for all of these years, (upon years, upon years, upon………)

      1. Absolutely Alexis, even the smallest blossoming of a flower makes one think that. Imagine a whole bouquet.

  26. I love the symbolism here: rescuing an orchid from the rubbish = rescuing/reclaiming the innate beauty and stillness within the woman. We are forever surrounded by the beauty that reflects our innermost essence, we just sometimes need to adjust our perception and observation of this.

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