How do they do it? Early last year I purchased an air plant (“Tillandsia” is the scientific name. It is in the family of bromeliads.) I have to admit it survived despite me. At first I would mist it with tap water, which turned the leafs brown. So I left it alone in my enclosed deck, with it simply taking in whatever moisture it could from the high humidity. It nearly died, but didn’t. Then a botanical garden offered a class on their care. For the cost, you would get three small varieties that would fit into a glass ball the size of a baseball. I went, and learned why my plant was miserable. They hate tap water. The water must be left overnight in a bowl, so the chemicals evaporate. If you can collect enough rain water, that was the best, but few could do so.

I started setting mixing bowls of water out overnight, then soaking the four upside down in the water for 20 minutes. This I did twice a week, so they benefited from both the humidity and the watering. My near-dead one thrived. (In the picture, it is the second one over from the left. You can’t see it, but the very bottom leafs are battered. All that you see is the new growth.) They quickly grew to the point where having them in a ball was not an option. They now fill a serving platter. To my surprise and delight, the one on the far left bloomed! Now once it blooms, a bromeliads will not bloom again. Instead, they produce “pups” around the adult, which, in their turn, will bloom, then produce pups. If you zoom in on the picture, the slightly larger-leaf plant growth in the center is the new pup. I am looking forward to seeing how the other varieties handle blooming and pups!

How do they survive? There are no roots. I am assuming in the wild there are at least hair roots to attach them to a base. Mine do not have them. They merely take in nourishment from the air and sun around them. They have no defenses, except their ability to take out of nothing. There are many varieties: the second from the right has no wide leafs to take in moisture, yet is happily growing. That they are alive is a given. HOW they live is a wonderful mystery, something to be delved into and wondered over.

That could be said of many people of faith: how does their faith stay alive under their circumstances? Yet it does. Not only do they survive, they may even be thriving. They take in nourishment that is real, though not visible. The ones who follow them are even grander. The “why” of their condition we may never understand. But this we know: God is there for them, and they are taking in the Holy Spirit. Do we need to understand it all first, before we accept and partake? Or shall we acknowledge that there are wondrous mysteries around us in nature and in community through which God can teach and strengthen us? May God open our eyes to see.