The Christmas Azalea

This is a story of a prayer and an azalea and good things happening.

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A Christmas azalea and the power of prayer.

Azaleas aren’t supposed to bloom at Christmas. That much I’m sure of. That this azalea has even survived for the last few months seems miraculous enough. Neither my wife nor I have much of a green thumb. The hardiest indoor plants die under our care. Too much attention, not enough, too much water, not enough? We’re never sure.

But I yearned for this plant to survive. It was symbolic, or so it was claimed. It’s not even ours. It belongs to our son, Timothy and his girlfriend, and we promised to take care of it the best we could. “I’ll try not to kill it,” I said. 

As readers of this blog know, Tim is doing 10 months of mission work in South Africa, living with a group of Benedictine monks and working in their school for underprivileged kids.

The azalea is just one of the things he left behind for our caretaking. There are also stacks of books, winter jackets, dress shirts, shoes, mittens, gloves, scarves, posters, a sleeping bag and boxes that I haven’t dared investigate. They sit in his old room, “the boys’ room” we still call it.

But the azalea is the only thing that requires looking after. Tim gave it to his girlfriend or she gave it to him, I’m not sure which. “It’s a symbol of our love,” Tim said, only half-joking. “If it survives, our relationship will survive.”  

“We’ll take care of it,” I promised. Quite a promise when you consider I was still in the hospital when Timothy left. At least I seemed to be improving enough at that point that we urged him to leave.

When I came home from the hospital, I watered the plant, clipped back some of the dead branches, talked to it, urged it to stay alive. We really like Tim’s girlfriend. She was a wonderful caregiver for Tim and all of us when I was sick. They are very sweet with each other. We want their love to survive.

Ten months, though, is a long time. Ten months, even with regular Skype-ing, is a challenge for any young relationship. 

We prayed for Tim, we prayed for his girlfriend, we said prayers of thanksgiving as my health improved. Maybe I even said a prayer for the azalea.

Guess what? The azalea is thriving. Not only that, in the last few weeks it’s sprouted a few buds and they are blooming.

As for the girlfriend, she is flying to South Africa at Christmastime to visit with Tim during his school break.

I wish she could take the Christmas azalea with her. It’s blooming now. We’re all blooming. And for that we give thanks to God.

Tags: Blessings
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