The weekend roles by again and I take down the orchids off their shelf and dust off their leaves that my kids are convinced are plastic. I give them each the allotted few ice blocks that is all the water they require. The weeks have turned into months and years and yet I’ve eventually learnt the lesson that orchids have to teach.
Hope is the highway to our desired future, and we have to keep it open if we’re ever going to get there.
A few weeks ago I found myself sprinting around an Australian airport behind my husband, chasing after cancelled flights. With jackets flapping like wings behind us and heavy suitcases being pushed in front, we looked like a reenactment of our university trolley-racing days. I was happy to give up long ago, convincing myself that an extra night or two away from the kids, wasted time in a foreign city, and who knows how many dollars thrown away, was not worth a fight I knew we’d lose anyway. I’m a lets-see-the-bright-side-of-this-inevitable-disaster kind-of peacekeeper, while Rich is more of a to-hell-with-that-and-not-on-my-watch kind of warrior. He’s speaking ever so strongly to the uniformed ground staff, while I’m smiling apologetically and thinking how lovely it’s going to be to put our feet up in some airport lounge… for another 36 hours of waiting. He’s redirected and we run again, and take a hop of a flight to run around another airport in a different city, and I’m wondering if we’re going to be able to find a shower after all this exercise. I’m still making the most of our inevitable delay when a number of jogs later, and flagging down a few airport buses, we plop down in seats at last. Richard turns to me, and breathes out, “We made it!” and I realise he’s done the impossible. The logistics are too complicated to explain, but I’m convinced its nothing short of a (man-made?) miracle that we’re actually on a flight headed home! I’d started to think Richard had a travel agent called Jesus.
“Jesus, we need a shuttle bus to be waiting to take us between terminals.”
“Jesus, please help us to find the right person to speak to as soon as we disembark.”
“Jesus, please may our bags come off first so we can try rebook the next flight that we were forced to cancel.”
And Jesus had proved to be surprisingly attentive, too.
Rich smiles at me as Sydney fades away far down below us and asks, “I want to understand you better. You went all quiet on me when we heard about the cancelled flights and delays. What were you thinking?”
I look out the window and wonder how to answer. The truth is, I’d given up hope the minute I’d heard the odds. It didn’t seem like a fight we could win. And so, I’d convinced myself of the merits of the alternative.
Kind of like the day we were waiting to say goodbye to Kiara. I told myself it would be better that way.
Now I find myself flying home exactly as desired and planned, and I’m almost disappointed because I had anticipated and accepted a different outcome.
They say those who need to control everything will never control anything. I find when I can’t control an outcome, I give up wanting it, so I don’t have to be disappointed. I’m embarrassed to be seen fighting for what I want, feeling like the disgruntled customer that everyone is staring at as she tantrums her response to being out of control. But there is an alternative to fighting with the panic that needs to control, and it doesn’t have to look like not fighting at all. My husband, to person-after-person, calmly but strongly fought for an outcome he believed in, an outcome he never gave up hoping in.
And I take down the third orchid from the shelf and smile at my lesson learned. Gentle persistence has kept me watering into my hope, and after two years this orchid is budding again. It is my first reflowering and I know it won’t be my last. I have learned that hope that doesn’t give up causes a fight of faith that brings the object of our hope into today. When the highway of hope is closed, there is no choice but to look around and get comfortable where we are.
But hope makes way for the miracle.
When we keep the highway of hope open, we keep pushing, we keep running, we keep watering, we keep praying, and one day, we look around and realise: “We made it! We’ve done the impossible.”