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Palm Tree vs Aloe

 Thoughts on Death, Healing and Regrowth

Today's story is about a girl who loved palm trees. In her back yard lived a sweet little one with beautiful green fronds. It was growing well until one day the temperature plummeted and Texas froze over.  ALL the palm trees across the state turned brown. Houston looked especially sad. A bit further north in Dallas and sometimes the plants can weather some tough winter weather. As the months went by, we eagerly waited and watched and hoped for new life.

One day the girl decided to experiment, and trimmed off the dead branches. It looked like a bad buzzed haircut. But Hurrah! Little green fronds began growing again. The precious tree had survived the icy blast.

Until the heat of the summer came, and the new growth turned brown again, seemingly overnight? "What happened?" asked her husband. He suggested more water. The slow hot summer months were spent giving that sweet little tree more water.

Meanwhile she watched her neighbor's tree, a humongous affair. It remained constant, looking mostly dead. She wasn't sure if it was dead dead (miracle max anybody?) but it never had a burst of regrowth.

She watered anew with increased vigor and vim, but nothing. Should she cut it down?

Meanwhile, a beloved grandmotherly neighbor had gifted the girl with a little aloe plant. NJ told her to give it sunlight, "It really needs to be in a sunny spot," she instructed. And so the girl began trying to grow something she'd never grown before.

She didn't realize the great healing power of the aloe. It's branches were made to be broken off, because they contain a magical gift: oozing slimy green stuff that helps people. More importantly, the aloe leaves can close up and effortlessly sew a protective seam around themselves.

One day the girl's daughter had a terrible sunburn and she looked at the little aloe plant, tiny and insufficient to heal the large burns. So she called NJ and asked for a huge branch. Of course like any good grandmother, she's always delighted when we call and ask for stuff. 

So the kind grandmother, really like a fairy godmother, recruited her husband and had him carry a huge terra cotta pot filled with a new, bigger aloe plant. Gratefully the girl accepted. But she wondered, "Will I really be able to keep this thing alive?" So she asked for specific instructions again. NJ had already seen the girl's house and the lack of sunlight, but knew the master bathroom was bright and cheerful. So she quickly calculated and said, "give this one X amount of water once a week, and it will do just fine." And it has.

Later that summer the girl discovered a heat rash in an inconvenient place, and turned to the aloe for the cooling, soothing relief. It made the burn feel much better.

Have you ever noticed how palm trees and aloe plants both share the same starburst pattern? But that's where the similarity ends, as we notice that one has learned to be resilient and regrow every time it's pruned or wounded. 

And the other can't stand the extreme contrast between fire and ice.

One day a wise therapist was teaching the girl that people are a bit like aloe. Hidden inside is the inherent capacity for regrowth.

The girl still loves palm trees, and will wait a bit longer to see if the one in her back yard is worth keeping. Chances are, months will pass and they'll have to replace it.

Meanwhile the aloe keeps surprising her. This pattern of regrowth after trauma is fascinating.


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