A year ago, we passed our neighbors who are gardening goddesses. Their yard always looks and smells amazing and is filled with birds and rabbits who come to find sanctuary. I said in passing how much I loved their aloe plants that had grown so large they had taken up a whole corner of their garden.
“Do you want some?”
“Oh..” I stammered trying to understand what she was saying.
“This one has three new runners. I’m digging them up right now so they won’t take over. You’re welcome to have one or two.”
“I’d love them,” I said and waited patiently six feet apart as she wrestled the runners out of the ground. She placed them on the corner and then backed away in the socially distanced dance we’ve all become accustomed to. I approached and picked them up by the roots and nestled them under the stroller.
“Is that a cactus?” the five-year-old asked. I smiled happy that our study of the desert habitat was having real world application.
“It is, so it’s spiky. Be careful and don’t touch the leaves.”
He nodded solemnly understanding.
We waved and thanked them as we continued our walk. “Mom, why did you want a cactus? Don’t they just poke you?” he asked.
His question suddenly transported me back to my Mama’s kitchen. I was a middle schooler trying to make a grilled cheese sandwich in our super snacker. As I was trying to open the top, my middle finger touched the edge of the black grill and burned it. I pulled my finger back yelping in pain.
“Go get some aloe,” my mom’s voice directed. I went to the sunroom and broke a small piece of aloe leaf and squeezed the cooling sap on my finger immediately feeling relief.
“Aloe is a healing plant,” I explained to our five-year-old. “The sap inside of it can heal burns and all kinds of things. It’s really good to have around.”
After a year of tending to the aloe plants in pots, we planted the aloe last week. As I was grounding the roots into the soil, my finger touched one of the leaves. A tiny drop of blood appeared.
As I wiped it away, it reminded me that planting healing always hurts. Healing pricks and prods us to new life and deeper roots and there is almost always pain involved. But once we plant that healing, we find ourselves grounded and rooted soon to be ready to offer healing and relief to others in the midst of their pain. Sometimes if we find the right space, we are able to grow as tall as a small child and send runners all over the yard, little pockets of healing that have traveled underground and blossomed in the spring light.
I don’t know whether our aloe will take root or not, but I know planting healing is always worth the prick.