Too Tired to Pray

ONE OF THE MOST REMARKABLE plants in nature is the Ibervillea sonorae. It can exist for seemingly indefinite periods without soil or even water. As Annie Dillard tells the story, one was kept in a display case at the New York Botanical Garden for seven years without soil or water. For seven springs it sent out little anticipatory shoots looking for water. Finding none, it simply dried up again, hoping for better luck next year.

Now that's what I call perseverance: hanging on, keeping on when it's not easy.

But perseverance has its limits, even for the Ibervillea sonorae. In its eighth year of no water, the rather sadistic scientists at the New York Botanical Gardens had a dead plant on their hands.

Most of us know what it's like to find ourselves past our seventh season, bereft of water, thirsty, and waiting for the eighth spring. No more energy and barely enough hope to send out one more pathetic little shoot. And it happens to us more like seven or eight times a year. Would that we could ...

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