A lesson from orchids

Today would have been my daughter Rejoice’s birthday. It’s our custom to celebrate this day every year since she passed away by remembering some of the special moments she shared with us.

This year, mine is the orchid story. At the time, Rejoice was living in Osaka, Japan, with her husband and five children. One winter day as she was outside tending to her garden, she saw her neighbor take out a pot that held the straggly remains of a plant.

“It was once a beautiful orchid,” her neighbor said with a sigh, “—a birthday gift from my children, but now it’s all shriveled up.”

“Do you mind if I have a go at it?” Rejoice asked.

Her neighbor was happy to get rid of it, so Rejoice took the pot and tended it for three years, regularly watering and fertilizing the unresponsive plant. She researched what light, temperature, and water conditions suited orchids best, but nothing seemed to get any results. Over those three years, everyone who saw the plant advised her to give up and toss it out. It was clearly dead and just taking up space.

Instead, Rejoice persevered, and one morning during the fourth year, a beautiful blossom suddenly appeared. My wife and I happened to be visiting at the time, and I took a photo.

Her patience and tender care in this simple matter spoke volumes to me about having a long-term vision and not giving up when I don’t see immediate results for my efforts. Persevering takes faith and an eye to see the possibilities that others can’t.

How many people have been given up on by others as hopeless cases? Yet if they receive the love and care they need, what a beautiful blossom their life can become. I hope to grow in having the patience, vision, and faith to see the potential in others, then to help nurture and develop it, so they too can blossom one day.