The National Catholic Review

    The plants in my house that are still alive thrive in an atmosphere of inattention. High maintenance plants don’t last long here. My plants tend to be more hearty than beautiful. They sit in their mismatched pots, soaking in sunshine through the windows, grateful for the occasional and unscheduled spout of water, reveling in their right to life.

    Since I am not the greenest caregiver, plants that need repotting often wait a long time for that new lease on life. Sometimes when I do finally repot a plant, I am surprised that the roots have been able to function in their dysfunctional maze, so fantastically intertwined and tightly quartered. I imagine a plant’s moment of repotting as relief from suffering, liberation beyond measure, a breath of bracing air. As the repotter, I feel positively benevolent.

    But having recently been spiritually repotted from a ministry I loved, I suspect that perhaps my plants are not as joyous about the experience as I have long believed. Imagine that you have nestled yourself into a known place of comfort, only to be wrenched out into naked air and then plunged into a strange and insecure environment: a new pot. Sure, it’s more spacious, but maybe it’s painfully cold. Maybe you dislike the fish-out-of-water feeling. Maybe you prefer the limits of a cramped, familiar existence to the freedom of an airy, seemingly bottomless, foreign place.

    Repotting can come about unexpectedly: say your pot is dropped on a tile floor and shatters into irreparable shards. Or say you take a public stance on a controversial issue that is unacceptable to the clerical powers-that-be. You find yourself, roots dangling, soil scattered, foliage in disarray, unsure of your next home, or even if there is another home waiting for you, somewhere out there. A new pot, if it is forthcoming, will redirect and reshape your life. But a new pot may feel weird and all wrong for you. At first.

    Getting repotted is a shock to the system, but may sometimes be the only way to survive, to grow, to stay healthy. It may feel awkward, all that room for your roots to stretch out and plunge further into what you hope is fertile ground. But it may be the best thing that ever happens to you, the proverbial blessing-in-disguise. It may save your life.