For many years, after Christmas was over, I’d make it a mission to keep my gorgeous, red poinsettia plants thriving. It seemed downright wrong to just toss them out along with the discarded Christmas trees that lined our neighborhood curbs for recycling. Even after their red leaves had fallen off, they were living plants and deserved a chance to bloom again next December!

But despite my fastidious efforts watering, feeding, and providing them ample sunlight, my plants gave out and died by by Easter. I was disappointed, but their demise seemed inevitable.

Attempt 1 -dead as a doornail

Then two Christmases ago, I got serious and did my research, determined to find the formula for perennial poinsettias! It seemed fairly easy—in the Fall, I should water them less and shroud them in complete darkness for at least 8 hours each night, and I’d have red blooms by Christmas. So, I faithfully moved my drying plant into the coat closet each night, and pulled it out before I left in the morning. After a few weeks, my poinsettia was crispy and dead as a doornail. I was infuriated! I decided I was OVER this frustrating, pointless ritual and would never bring another poinsettia home.

But last year, my daughter showed up with two bushy red plants, decorated with festive gold bows and foil. And this time, I decided to let them be, only occasionally watering and pruning them when they got ragged. So what if they stayed green all year? Nothing wrong with that, I reasoned, they look fine. And you can probably guess what happened. Last month, I was stunned (and delighted) to see tiny red buds forming on plants, right on time for Christmas! When my amazed friends and family ask what I did differently this time, I respond, “I guess I’m finally learning what it means to ‘let go and let God’.”

Let go, and let God

This lesson hasn’t come easily to me, especially when the chips are down and the stakes are high. If you’re like me, you know through Catholic teachings, that the only way through the storm is to let God take over. But believing this fully, putting it into practice, and experiencing peace instead of panic, is another matter. So I tend to resort to fretting, pleading, shaking my fists instead of clasping my hands in quiet prayer.

The surprising lesson of my renewed poinsettia, which followed nature’s course when I just ‘let it be’, comes at a good time. God made His point, and showed his sense of humor, through my Christmas poinsettia. As the new year approaches, a picture of my poinsettia adorns the cover of my daily journal. This will remind me that when I’m struggling with problems which are too much for my human hands –to be patient, rest a while, and ‘let God’ work his wonders.

What helps you to ‘let go, and let God’?
What faith lessons have you experienced from nature?
When have you had glimpses of God’s sense of humor?
Does the concept of ‘perennial poinsettias’ have meaning for you?

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