Regular water and even plant vitamins are necessary to keep the greenery green and the plant producing—ah, yes—“spider babies.”
On a snowy December afternoon 40 years ago, a bride took scissors to the cascade of red roses she was preparing to carry down the aisle minutes later. Hanging oddly from the bouquet were several “spider babies,” as she called them—outgrowths from the greenery, Chlorophytum comosum, the florist had added to her bouquet. The deed was done; the greenery discarded; the bride happy; the ceremony unblemished.
Unbeknownst to her, a bridesmaid had witnessed this moment of private pruning and retrieved the snipped greenery from the trash. She took the fragments home, rooted them, and on our first anniversary offered Debby and me a healthy “spider plant”—a living piece of Debby’s bridal bouquet.
At first it was a novelty, and a funny story to tell friends and family. Soon, keeping that plant alive took on a kind of urgency, for who would let the living symbol of their marriage wither and die? We watered it, changed the soil, protected it from chewing pets— and took it with us whenever we moved, sometimes positioning it atop the luggage as we drove thousands of miles to new ministry locations.
Eight major moves later “the marriage plant” has survived two cats; two dogs; two active sons who knocked it over several times; and years of less-than-stellar sunlight in north-facing houses. It has taken tending— frequent tending—to keep the plant healthy. Potted plants get rootbound if not repositioned every year or so. Regular water and even plant vitamins are necessary to keep the greenery green and the plant producing—ah, yes—“spider babies.” Like the marriage plant, the family has also produced: both sons are married and living near us, and we cherish one grandson, with another on the way. Multiple friends and colleagues have taken cuttings through the years, so there is no telling just how far Debby’s bouquet has now traveled.
Forty years along, we watch with gratitude what God has grown—in the marriage plant, yes, but mostly in the marriage and the family. He who heard our vows has tended the marriage He ordained, keeping it funny, growing, and sacred. “Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations” (Ps. 90:1).
Today it flourishes in the ample southern sunlight just outside my editorial office, where every day I am reminded of the power of love and sacred continuity.