Playdates with God: More on Free Tuesday

On free Tuesdays at the museum, I go back to the conservatory.
The orchids are there waiting for me and I’ve done a little reading since last we met. I have learned the origin of this name orchid, for one. It comes from Greek mythology. Orchis was a naughty boy who, during the festival of Bacchus, had too much to drink and tried to rape a priestess. He was torn apart by wild animals as punishment. But when his father prayed for him to be restored to life, the gods changed him into a slender flower instead.

Early botanists must have thought they discovered Orchis’s flower when they stumbled on these delicate beauties–the term orchid means testicle, due to the resemblance of the double root tubers of the flower to the male genitalia that proved Orchis’s demise. I read that Greek women thought they could control the sex of their unborn children through Orchid roots. Prescription dictated that if the father ate large, new tubers, the child would be male; but if the mother ate small tubers, the offspring would be female.
Go figure. 

When I enter the hot, moist air of the conservatory, I am pleased to see that I am the only one there. This makes the praying easier and I talk out loud as we saunter along through leaf and petal. I like to explore through touching and without other watchful eyes, I feel free to run my finger over the delicate structures of the plants.  
I also try to peek at the roots (giggle) but most of these orchids have their tubers modestly covered.

I am lying on my back, taking a picture of palm fronds when I hear an uncomfortable cough. This is how I meet Mike Beck, Ph.D., the conservatory director. I ask him about orchids. Aren’t they hard to grow? I ask. He explains how, in the tropics, orchids are rather viney climbers that rise up out of the marshy lands. So you have to start them wet and let them dry, he says. He says a lot more than that but I can’t remember it all. He shows me an orchid he is growing that clings vertically to a wooden pallet, climbing ever higher. He shows me the vanilla plant, tells me that it is an orchid. I wish it would bloom again, he says. And then he tells me about the many orchids that are native to West Virginia. Really? That patient man, he takes me around the conservatory, imparting little bits of knowledge here and there, and it is a delight to see how he so obviously loves his work.
But he is getting ready to conduct a tour for a garden club so I am soon left alone again. But not alone. We sit by the goldfish pond; listen to the quiet trickle of water. And once again I am blown away by the beauty of creation—by the many and diverse worlds that live in this world and how they hold so many mysteries to explore.

He takes my hand. Come,he says. There is so much to see
*Over at The High Calling today, we are continuing our book club discussion on Ann Kroeker‘s Not so Fast. It’s the perfect book to read after Easter–a book to help us maintain the slowing down and focus on God. Charity Singleton-Craig writes today. Will you join us?
How do you embrace the God-joy? Every Monday I’ll be sharing one of my Playdates with God. I would love to hear about yours. It can be anything: outside, quiet time. Maybe it’s solitary. Maybe it’s loud and crowded. Just find Him. Be with Him. Grab my button at the bottom of the page and join us:

the Playdates button:


  1. says

    Oh, I love orchids too! I have one right now in my home that I’ve coaxed back into bloom. One of my favorite places is Phipps Conservatory. If you’ve never been, or want to come again, perhaps I can coax you up here for a visit!

  2. says

    i wish i lived down the street from you. i would meet you at that conservatory and we would raise our cameras and together head into a time of communion with God – sponsored by nature herself. thank you for writing it and for sharing your pics. they make me *feel* like i’m there, at least.

  3. says

    These are beautiful, beautiful orchids, Laura. We have different varieties in our garden, the best one, I think, is the Cattleya. There are orchid farms here in the Philippines where one can buy them really inexpensive.

  4. Jody Collins says

    How fortunate you are to have Free Tuesdays! Thinking about it, tho’–we have free beauty every day–I’m learning to look for it. The amaranth is stunning–growing some of that this year in our garden.

  5. says

    I think your camera lens gives you a curiosity and perspective on all that is around you that the rest of us miss. Of course, I don’t want to leave out God directing your eyes to the beauty of His creation everywhere too. 🙂 Amazing pictures, Laura. A feast for the eyes! And I’m so glad you were able to get some prayer time in among the beautiful buds as well.

  6. soulstops says

    Thank you for sharing your gorgeous photos, and a bit of history…I won’t look at an orchid in quite the same way…love to you, sweet friend 🙂 So proud of you for zip lining at the retreat…your zip line looked much harder to reach the platform than the one I went on with our girl…God was gracious and gave us an easier first time 🙂

  7. Maureen says

    If I can get out your way one day, I’d like to visit the conservatory with you. It would be fun to go looking for beauty as you do.

  8. Linda Chontos says

    I’m giggling just a little too Laura 🙂 The beautiful detail of those flowers… is so amazing. Thanks for letting me come along.

  9. Hazel Moon says

    I relaxed just reading about your visit! God’s creation here on earth is so very lovely! What will heaven be like??

  10. says

    I love this post and the orchids are so beautiful…each one specially colored by our God. My sister whom I write of today lives in the Hawaiian Islands and grows orchids all over her yard. They are planted in the forks of trees, from baskets, in the ground, and all up and down tree trunks. They are beautiful.

    With love, ~ linda

    PS…I tried to upload one from her yard, but it would not, so maybe I can email it. : ) I will try!

  11. says

    Beautiful pictures!

    And seriously. How did I NOT make the connection? An orchiectomy is the removal of a testical. Orchids.

    My mother, gasp, loves testicle plants.

    She literally grows 10 different varieties in her window. I absolutely can’t wait to tell her their story.

  12. says

    So much to see… yes, and spring seems to be a season for opening my eyes wide. Love your pictures here– oh, the colors! I spotted my first tulip in bloom today and wanted to do a dance (kind of hard when you’re driving.) Hope your week’s a good one.

  13. Shelly Miller says

    Finally got here to read this piece of beauty. Your photos are glorious and we are so kindred. I would do this, lay on the ground to take a photo, touch the leaves and ask a million questions. The owner of our nursery knows me by name. Hmmm.

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