The Slow Bloom of Soul Tending

Soul tending is not for the faint of heart. It takes time. It is a slower rhythm than our daily, accelerated chronos time. It is liminal time. Observation is required—an intimacy between the observer and the soul observed. The effects are cumulative. Wonder. Delight. Joy. A new surge of gratitude.

Gordon and Lorene are my parent’s neighbors in that tiny Northeast Ohio Mennonite town where I was raised.

Last night they invited us to watch their night blooming Evening Primrose unfold.

Initially I resisted. It was after 9pm, when I like to do my evening ablutions and begin to wind down. I was in the middle of my shower when my mom called out that it was ‘time’. Time to go watch those slow motion blossoms unwind.

When I arrived and the show began, I was captivated.


Lorene laughed saying, ‘This is what people in small towns do for fun”!

I learned about night blooming primroses. These wild moon flowers, Oenothera macrocarpa (big fruit) are prairie dwellers, with a long taproot, usually growing best in soils with little organic matter. They are tough and provide prolific fruits for all insects and birds, offering pollen for the night bees, bats and moths, and seeds for the finches in late summer/fall. The smell is an aphrodisiac, with the faint whiff of jasmine.

Like time release photography, something inside of them was attuned to the darkening sky, triggering their blooms. They began to pop open, like clockwork, around 9:15 every night, our hosts told us.

We took turns pointing out the next fragrant bloom, stirring slowly before opening. We wondered together at the amazing secret life of plants.


The next morning, the waning blooms were crawling with bumble bees.


They would last for a short time, then crumple and fall to the ground. The tight scrolls of primrose flowers for tomorrow night waited silently in the withering sun, until dusk. Their time to be showy.

It was a moment of soul tending for all of us.




3 thoughts on “The Slow Bloom of Soul Tending

  1. The Evening Primrose offers praise and worship in the night hour – a time for a private audience with Creator.


  2. How I’ve often wondered about this plant! I love plants and have studied them since a child with the Science Professor as a neighbor. He would take us kids to show us the marvels in the forests and tell stories about them.

    This plant I’ve never been able to see. For it to grow in Ohio is a real surprise. Wonder how she was able to get the proper soil and enable it to grow so well.

    Thank you.


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