When I first saw a spider plant, I was at a restaurant taking in my surroundings and waiting for my food to come. Maybe it was because I had an empty stomach, but I didn’t think of the plant as anything special. In fact, I found it homely enough to wonder why someone would choose to own one. The plant in the restaurant didn’t have any babies and its long, thin leaves reminded me of grass. Even the tips of the plant were browning, like a lawn does in the middle of summer. I was only just beginning to adore houseplants but I knew I wouldn’t plan to keep this type of plant in my collection.

That is, until I was re-introduced to the spider plant a few years later when my husband, John, and I were visiting my grandma in Maine. I’d just wrapped up a difficult semester studying chemistry — a subject that never clicked for me -and was finding it hard to feel comfortable in my surroundings. After being “on” all summer, studying and going to class, it was hard to let myself relax. Driving along the beach or exploring the country, I’d worry about how disconnected I felt from everything. I didn’t feel like I deserved to sit and do nothing, my mind racing toward future to-do lists that I couldn’t help but think about.

When I laid my eyes on the enormous, baby-ridden spider plant at my grandma’s house, my perspective shifted. Something about seeing this plant among all of her furniture — sentimental and unique, a wonderful testament to my grandma’s personality — made me feel completely at home. I was instantly drawn to the plant’s obvious age, left wondering how many years had to have passed in my grandma’s care for it to be so large. Here was a living organism, solid and enduring , doing nothing at all except existing. And that was perfectly okay.

When I asked her about it, she told me that the plant had actually been her grandmother’s — a woman I’d never met. Though my great-great-grandmother was gone, her plant had lived through multiple generations to remind our family of her life. It was beautiful to be able to connect to someone I’d never met before — someone who had been gone for years before I was born — through another living organism. My great-great-grandma had influenced the life of this houseplant and through this influence, she was — in a circuitous way — able to share a piece of herself with her great-great-granddaughter.

My grandma was quick to create cuttings for me, wrapping the spiderlings in a wet paper towel and telling me to make sure the towel stayed wet so that roots could form. I dutifully followed her advice, ensuring that even as we drove back to Georgia in our hot car, these babies were receiving the care required to set roots of their own. It didn’t take long. When I arrived home, I was stunned to find white tendrils poking out from the bottom of the babies — a sign that my great-great-grandmother’s plant was about to forge through another generation.

There are times when I forget to water my prized plant. Its leaves droop and turn a muted green. When this happens, I always find myself asking what’s going on in my own life. What’s causing me to neglect my plant? Often, I find that poor health of my spider plant is symbolic of my own stagnation. Plants need nutrients and water to grow, and so do we. While we can “get by” without spiritual nutrients, my soul tends to feel like my spider plant looks when I forget to water it. Droopy. Tired. Grey.

My great-great-grandmother’s spider plant has lived and changed and grown — survived a myriad of common house plant issues, undergone neglect or overwatering — and, despite all of these hardships, created hundreds of offspring. We all go through slumps, through periods of spiritual drought. Plants teach us that we can hunker down and survive these slumps. More often than not, these periods of dormancy mean growth is just round the corner — much like tulips waking up in the springtime.

I just started a new job a few months ago and was recently gifted some spider plant babies by a co-worker. She’d passed along them along because her plant was “having too many babies” for her (what a wonderful problem to have!). As simple as this gesture was, I was thrilled, especially because I’ve been in a bit of a “slump” lately. Every morning when I get into the office, I check on these tiny little plants. Today was the first day I noticed the beginnings of new roots, tiny white little shoots demonstrating that change was coming. Growth is on its way.

Originally published at http://plantanewfuture.com on February 16, 2020.

Minimalism, simple living, philosophy, and personal finance. Freelance writing services available at lindseybwrites.com.