Plants that heal
The plant was huge: Sarah had had it for years. It was pot-bound, that was for sure. She had made a half-hearted attempt to repot it, but it was stuck fast. It seemed to glower at her. Its babies were crammed in round the side, its spikes were sharp, its crenellated surface was threatening. Sarah was afraid of it.
She asked him to help her with the plant. She had bought a larger pot and some compost, and some stout gloves for both of them. They knelt on the grass. She held the pot sideways, and then to her great surprise he took the gloves off and grasped the plant. She pulled one way and he the other. She was silent, but he was speaking to the plant: “come on, it’s OK, let go, be smooth. The new pot will feel great.” The old pot yielded and the plant came out whole, the labyrinthine root system exposed for all to see, matted and tight. She fetched the bigger pot, and they sat it in the new soil, dropping fertiliser in, tamping down the sides. She fancied she could hear the plant sigh with relief. Well, someone was sighing. Maybe it was her.
But his hands! They were full of barbs and covered with weals. He had wanted to be in touch with the plant: but it had mounted a spectacular defence. They both looked appalled at the damage. Then simultaneously it occurred to both of them that Aloe was a powerful curative. He took a sharp knife and cut one of the horny leaves off. She held it up, and a viscous gel oozed from it. Slowly, slowly, she rubbed it onto his hands, as gently as she could. And like a miracle, the skin was healed. The bumps, the cicatrices, the cuts were swealed away. His hands were new again.
He looked at her. He put the gel on his finger, and put it over her heart: where she imagined her pain and her fretfulness to reside. Softly, softly his finger moved over her skin. He took another drop, and massaged her forehead lightly with it. She began to feel quite different: a shining, a resting, a knowing. That was enough.
In the end, she never knew if the plant had healed them, or if they had healed each other. It didn’t matter much. It might not last for ever: what does, after all? But Sarah knew that this was powerful magic, and it had acted on them because they had acknowledged that they belonged to Nature, rather than just inhabiting her. And she had shown that she knew her own.