Purple sage (Salvia dorrii ) is a plant native to much of the western United States. It is not really a sage but a member of the mint family. I have come across this plant and its subspecies on many hikes throughout the West. I always feel uplifted by the beautiful purple blossoms and the sagey-minty aroma.
We planted a native salvia specimen in our garden and it survived for a couple of years even though it received too much irrigation water to be really happy. So, we transplanted it into our newly created desert garden and it promptly died—or so I thought. As it withered, dropped leaves, and shrunk to half its pre-transplant size, I felt myself grieving for a dying friend. A month ago this purple sage hosted magnificent lavender blooms. Now it was fading into the dusty desert soil.
But, as with all living things, plants have a will to survive. I watched with prayerful attention for signs of rebirth. Over the next few weeks I noticed a few green leaves emerging on dry woody stems. It was apparently just taking its time to recuperate from the trauma of being transplanted. I do not know its long term prognosis for survival but it seems to be on the path to healing.
Years ago, I ran across a quote about transplanting with regard to the spiritual life. It went something like this: “If you do not spiritually repot yourself every seven years, you are not growing in a healthy way.” This stuck with me as I wandered the path of my own metaphysical journey. It seemed like every seven years or so, I needed to reevaluate my process. This applied equally to all things: work, relationships, and spiritual practice.
I used to feel the need for a radical shift because I resisted the natural process. Change was forced upon me because I waited too long. Now when I experience a metaphorical transplanting, it is not so dramatic. I can feel when I am root bound or when I need to change the environment for better growth. I am more capable of making proactive choices rather than reacting out of old habits.
Our natural Buddha-mind continuously seeks to experiment and test our realization in a wide variety of situations. Once in awhile, our natural insight compels us to repot—to stretch out of limited thinking or complacency. Our roots need more room to grow. This does not mean we fundamentally change what we are doing. We simply expand our view and adopt whatever form is necessary to be of greatest benefit to all concerned. It is important to be patient as it may take some time to adapt to the new environment.