Confirmation from Hibiscus

Early in spring 2005, in preparation for a trip overseas, we bought our first digital camera, a lightweight, compact Minolta. It’s so compact and light that I began carrying it everywhere I went. I walk everywhere I can.

I began taking photos of the wonderful plants that grow in Vancouver’s West End, daisies in the grass, rhododendrons in Stanley Park, tulips in a condominium complex flower bed. I had no goal except to capture divine nature all around me and savour it at my leisure.

Then, when the idea for Wrasma Marketing began to germinate, I wondered about a logo. I wanted something to stand for the qualities of the products I would be selling through the webstore: based in nature, healthy, inspiring, desirable. The first image I picked was of an interesting outcropping of rock with moss and other green vegetation growing on it.
I worked with that for quite a while, until one day, my husband suggested I needed something lighter, brighter, more inspiring.

So we browsed through the hundreds of images I’d taken of the flora in Vancouver. And this beautiful image of a white Rose of Sharon, Latin name Hibiscus syriacus, popped out from the rest, taken in August 2006.

A native of India and East Asia, the Rose of Sharon is the national flower of Korea, as I found out when I met up with a young Korean representative of the Bank of Montreal. She was delighted to recognize it on my Savings, Naturally business card as we talked about my setting up a business account.

Having chosen the white petalled, red-heart-centred hibiscus for the logo, the colours of the webstore fell easily into line – several shades of green (a dark forest green and vibrant grass greens), a garnet red, and a white background. This was real progress.

As I worked with the six usable images I’d taken of the hibiscus for use throughout the design of the webstore, I realized I wanted to take a few more pictures, particularly of the blossoms as buds, and so I tried to find the shrub again.

I could see, in my mind’s eye, the kind of garden formation the shrub grew in and I was sure of which side of the street that garden was. But I couldn’t remember which street it was in and I didn’t have a clue about which block. So for the next while, I walked into downtown using a different route each time, constantly on the lookout for the hibiscus shrub.

I didn’t find it.

After about two weeks of this kind of effort, I decided to have an all-out search, and set out to walk the whole of the West End in a grid: up one street and down the next. I was unsuccessful, so I gave up searching, disappointed, and worked with just one of the images I had. I figured the owners had decided to uproot the plant.

This story is now coming back to its beginnings. Two things came together in September 2007: my search for a spiritual home and my need to be singing regularly.

I had sung with the Vancouver Bach Choir for ten years and decided to quit before the new season began in the Fall of 2006, to put my energies elsewhere. After a year away, I began to miss singing.

So I decided to give up finding a perfect match for my spiritual needs and go back to my origins, the Anglican church, with the idea to join the choir. The phone book quickly showed me that there is one Anglican church in Vancouver’s West End, St. Paul’s Anglican Church at Jervis and Pendrell.

So one Sunday, my husband and I went to St. Paul’s, the first time in years that we had gone to church when it wasn’t either Christmas or Easter, and we enjoyed it – the singing, the camaraderie, and the sermon. Even the dogma seemed more approachable. “Wherever you are on the path, you are welcome at God’s table.”

I chatted briefly with the priest and told him I was interested in joining the choir. He suggested I talk to the organist and choir leader, Dianne Warren. We’d really enjoyed her playing, particularly her piano playing. Another brief chat and I was all set up to come to the first choir practice of the fall, the next week.

What I noticed over the next weeks is that I was translating what I heard during the services at St. Paul’s into my beliefs and understanding everything in a whole new way. I’m feeling very much at home.

Then one day, as I was walking home from church – did you guess? – I came upon the Hibiscus syriacus that I’d photographed over a year earlier. The blossoms were over, but it was the same shrub, in fact there are two, each side of a driveway.

Now, each time as I walk by “my” hibiscus shrubs, I check out their growth, waiting for the blossoms. As the horticulturists advise, its leaves don’t come out until late spring and the flowers are nowhere to be seen, even though it’s now July. I’m looking forward to seeing the flowers bloom again.

And this find somehow confirmed that I’d made the right choice in going back to singing at this church. As the months go by, that becomes more clear.

I found what I was looking for by giving up.