One of the many things the COVID-19 season has given Judith and I time for is planting flowers and shrubs around the house.

Unusually, we had to have them delivered but at least planting flowers about the place would brighten up the house, while giving us a feeling of something resembling normal.

A short time after we placed a big bunch of purple somethings in a pot at the front door, I noticed a stem with a few flowers at the top had been ripped off the main plant. Since the flowers on this detached stem looked to heathy enough, I did what any man would do and shoved the stem back into the soil to see whether or not it would recover.

Even those with the mildest hues of green on their fingers will already know how this played out. Did the break-away stem make it? Afraid not. Withered and wilting, it is no longer with us.

To anyone who knows us well, our capacity to unknowingly cause GBH to plants and flowers is legendary. We even have older relatives who regularly take our plants to their house for what they describe as ‘rehab.’

However withered and wilting this stem might have been, too late even for horticultural rehab, it provides us all with a powerful lesson that if learned will cause us to flourish a little more. And the lesson is this:

It’s not enough to be planted, you have to be connected to grow.

There are as many applications of this lesson as there are circumstances in which they are played out.

We all know being a member of a gym won’t make you fit or how having a kid might define you as a parent but it won’t make you an awesome Mum or Dad. A gold banded ring might show the world you’re spoken for, but living together doesn’t mean you have a thriving marriage. A payroll number tells HR you work there, but it’s not necessarily a sign you knock it out of the park every day at work. It’s even possible to sit in the same pew every week and never feel the need to change.

Even though my broken stem was the same species and planted in the same place as the main shrub, there was no way for its buds to grow, flower and influence the world, or at least our front door step. The stem would need to be connected to grow.

Planted is gym membership but connected turns up and trains. Planted wears a wedding ring while connected builds a marriage. Planted is having kids but connected makes a family. Planted is a pay cheque, connected changes the world. Planted attends church yet connected worships Jesus.

The reason we feel listless, unfulfilled and adrift is not because we don’t have a life, it’s more often we fail to engage with the life we have. You’re meant to sign up to living. So step out from the sidelines and understand that it’s not enough to be planted, you have to be connected to grow.