The Orchid Queen
Feb 8, 2010
Can an orchid forget?
One might not think so, but this one forgot. She was born next to a thicket of vines in a forest that echoed with the whine of bullets and the screams of men. When she was very young, a boot had fallen on her body, exhausting her in a bewilderment of panic as she struggled to free herself. Eventually, the boot had been dragged away, leaving behind scars and confusion in her delicate heart.
It was not simply that she was ignored by the soldiers marching on the path next to her home. She might have endured that, taking comfort in the admiration of animals and birds. Her tears, for orchids can indeed shed tears, grew from a profound sense of violation and pain. The foul acridity of tobacco juice often marred the ground around her, splashing across her flowers as she cringed in revulsion. More than one soldier stopped to urinate, unaware that she was choking from the fumes.
Each year should have brought pride in the new growth of her leaves and petals. Instead, she was filled with unease as the forest trembled with the sounds of war. Bodies fell across the path, slamming into the earth with terrifying thuds. Her normal serenity was so disturbed by the continued years of conflict that she began to droop, even forgetting how to breathe. Sometimes, she wondered if she had gone mad.
She had not gone mad. She had fallen prey to the pain of loneliness and the sorrow of a violent world. Her heart had become so troubled that she no longer remembered that she was an orchid. Surrounded as she was by the smoke and noise of a world out of touch with beauty, her loss of identity was complete.
Hopeless, she pressed her body against the earth and prepared to die.
Fortunately for her, dying can be a slow and uncooperative process. She didn’t die, which vexed her greatly. Being stubborn, as some orchids tend to be, she continued to rest her body on the rich dark earth, wondering idly how long it would take for death to come.
Her emotions had been so damaged that she found it difficult to rest. Her mind was turbulent and her thoughts returned again and again to the boot that had crushed her and the pain and resentment that had overwhelmed her soul. She hated the men who had filled her home with foulness and noise and continuous warfare. If an orchid could shriek, her cries would have been terrifying.
Since she could not shriek, she lay against the earth in silence. Her breathing grew slower and the erratic pulses of energy shooting along her stem began to gradually respond to a rhythm that she had forgotten. The earth, the moist, life-giving soil on which she lay, had its own pulse that played against her, caressing her petals, coaxing her to listen.
Having nothing better to do, she pressed herself deeper into the earth and examined the cadence of the world around her. She had not noticed such things for a very long time. Her pain had created impenetrable walls around her, condemning her to an unnecessary prison. Now, as she listened, she heard the thrum of animals walking along the forest paths. She heard the music of her friends the birds, and felt the whispered breathing of other plant life.
The earth beneath her was so warm, and so embracing, that she was sure that she felt the energy of the entire world swirling into her delicate roots and body. The energy was exuberant, and made her feel lightheaded and frothy. She shifted one of her petals and glanced up at the sky and noticed with some surprise that the sun was bathing her body. She had quite forgotten how delightful the sun could be.
She was fascinated by the interplay of the sun with the leaves of the trees above her, and began to feel slightly hypnotized as she watched. The trees seemed to bend toward her, nodding at her and speaking to her with the rustling of their leaves. She lay there quietly, gazing at the details around her. A squirrel stood on a rock in front of her and cocked its head curiously, chewing on an acorn. She ordinarily didn’t pay much attention to squirrels, but this one seemed like a very fine little fellow. He chattered at her, and she laughed, as orchids sometimes do.
Many hours passed, and she discovered that she had forgotten how to listen. The world of the forest was filled with secret words of love and beauty that spoke of oneness and strength and peace. Her senses opened and she began to feel that her roots were intertwined with every plant and tree, every clump of earth and vein of rock, deeper and deeper, spreading far beyond the forest.
As she listened, her petals began to shine, and the energy coursing from the earth gave her the strength to lift her body from the forest floor. The sunlight washed across her, and as it did, she realized that the vibrancy of the hidden world had cleansed her pain and feelings of resentment toward the boot and the filth and the violence of men.
The forest seemed to understand her transformation, and sent warm currents of air through her petals, caressing her gently and murmuring her name in approval, which brought a flush of pink to her petals. She had forgotten her name. She had forgotten what it meant to be an Orchid Queen, to be a flower that was directly connected to the earth; a flower that gleamed with the resonance of the joy that created her.
As she straightened her body, she curtsied to the trees and the plants and the animals around her, and nodded at the chattering squirrel. She whispered a promise to the earth as she curtsied; a promise to never forget who she was and a promise to never forget to listen to the hidden world.
Peter Falkenberg Brown is passionate about writing, publishing, public speaking and film. He hopes that someday he can live up to his favorite motto: “Expressing God’s kind and compassionate love in all directions, every second of every day, creates an infinitely expanding sphere of heart.”