I have three pots on a small cart below my big living room window. Two of them have herbs that are thriving but the one to the left was empty. I popped into Trader Joe’s for some cut flowers and saw a begonia plant that was just the right size for my pot, so I brought her home with me. She is petite and has seven dusty orange and faint celadon colored blooms surrounded by a nest of big, lush green leaves at the base of her.
This darling little plant has charmed me for the past few days. She is in my direct line of sight right now as I type. I haven’t been inspired to look up a word lately, and was curious about what I might find if I investigated the origins of “begonia.”
To my delight, the word was in the Dictionary of Word Origins by Joseph T. Shipley and says See Appendix II. The Appendix is a list of words that come from names. Apparently the first begonia was brought to England from Jamaica around 1775 and named after the French governor of Santo Domingo, Michel Begon. I marvel at the courage that the first explores had to get into a boat a set sail, not knowing what would happen, if they would be able to return or what they would find. And I can only imagine the wonder of those back at home seeing a totally foreign plant like my begonia for the first time (say, if I was a guest of the royal court or the housekeeper whose job it was to dust the conservatory or library) knowing that it undeniably grew on their earth but that they had no awareness of it until that moment.
In a different but related way, we are all explorers if you define the concept more broadly. I look back at the last year and four months and have discovered new growth, emotional and spiritual plants, if you will. I’ve stepped into deep, dark and scary places within myself where the light of understanding and love has fundamentally shifted my experience and awareness. There are still caves that feel like they elude me. But I’m open to the moment, to the unknown and curious about what I don’t know. It takes courage. I mostly feel hopeful about what else there is for me to discover and nurture (in spiritual, creative, psychology, professional and relational terms). The answer keeps pointing back to the present moment and being faithful and open to the now. I like believing that new life is already growing in my soul, that I really am whole and I am just not completely aware of it yet.
But like my begonia plant, it is there, it is all, ready and there.