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Surviving and thriving

David Epps's picture

Against all odds, there it stood. It was unbowed, unbroken, and unblemished. How in the world it survived is beyond me. After all, I had spared no effort or expense in trying to kill it.

Several years ago, I decided that the area around my mailbox needed something. So, I ringed the areas with stones, bought potting soil, and planted vincas.

The vinca flower, an annual, is a tough plant and thrives in sunny, dry areas. I deemed it the perfect flower to plant around the mailbox since the sun is on the area all day long and it is too far from the house to water frequently.

That spring, I planted about 80 vincas. The flowers were a mix of white, pink, red, and a sort of pinkish red.

The next spring, I did the same, planting about 80 of the flowers. Later, in a few weeks, to my surprise, more vincas sprouted up — lots of them. While the vincas are annuals, they evidently produce a quantity of seeds. So many, in fact, that I never had to plant vincas again. Year after year, a bountiful crop of the hardy, flowering plant grew up and provided a brilliant splash of color around the mailbox.

This year, however, with the mild winter, the copious amount of rain, and my heavy travel schedule, weeds took root in my small flower bed. When it wasn’t raining, and when I had time, I tried to weed the area, but, after several weeks, I knew the battle was lost. The vincas were trying to sprout and grow but the weeds were choking them out. So, I gave up.

I went to a local big box store and bought Round-Up plant killer, a roll of dark, thick plastic, and two bags of tree bark chips. I sprayed every plant to the point of soaking. I knew it was a death sentence for both weeds and vincas. Then I laid down a double lining of the black plastic, and covered it all with the bark chips. I returned to the store and bought four more bags and added them to the former flower bed.

A couple of weeks ago, I saw something near the mail box. As I walked down for a look, I realized that it was a vinca. Somehow, it had survived the poison, had penetrated two layers of plastic, and had shoved itself up through several inches of heavy tree bark chips.

A couple of days ago, I counted nine flowers in brilliant pinkish red crowning the tall, green stems and leaves. There it stood as if in defiance. I decided to leave it alone. It has earned the right to survive.

That vinca reminds me of several people I know. Some of these people have endured trials, obstacles, difficulties, heartache, heart-break, illness, loss of jobs, ruptured families, and a host of other situations that would bury most people. Yet, through persistence, determination, grit, and faith they have overcome seemingly insurmountable odds and stand tall, beautiful, and victorious.

They are an example and an encouragement to all who are privileged to know them. Some people — like a certain flower that greets all who pass by — just refuse to be kept down. Not only do they survive — they thrive.

[David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, Sharpsburg, Ga. ( He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese which consists of Georgia and Tennessee ( and the Associate Endorser for the Department of the Armed Forces, U. S. Military Chaplains, ICCEC. He may contacted at]

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