This morning I slowed down, as I do in spring, to walk across the clover patch at the corner of our small green space, and to see if I could spot, just in passing, a pattern of four leaves against the deceptive multiplicity of threes. Some days I find a ‘lucky’ clover, others I just enjoy the richness of the green. Today I bent and ran my fingers through the leaves, winnowing the overlapping pretenders away from each other.
Three, three, three, three..four? No, three with another lobe from a separate leaf peeking innocently through… three, three, oh, four! As I run my fingers down the stem and break it out, I realize what I hold this morning is a five-leaf clover.
A pattern of three, equally spaced, and two larger leaves beneath, all coming to the centre junction legitimately….one of the two larger leaves damaged, holed through in several places. For a moment I hold it, idly thinking, playing with the random ideas and feelings that it brings.
Surely, if a four-leaf clover is considered ‘lucky’ for its comparative rarity, is not a five-leaf clover even more fortunate? Yet this one is imperfect, damaged. Should I just pinch off the one broken leaf, creating a more visually appealing lucky quadrifoil? Or respect the authenticity of how I found it, a genuine quintuplet of leaves?
I keep walking, toying with the scrap of greenery, aware of the frivolousness of the thought train, examining that awareness. My first impulse, to pinch away rather than accept the holes, to tidy and neaten up the plantlet at the cost of its uniqueness...yes, I get it. I too have leaves; facets, lobes, faces, aspects of my somatic personality. Not every leaf is the same size, or symmetrical shape. Some are partly obscured by the top leaves, the normality of three disguising the extra passion of that green branching towards the sun, to gather and collect and bud out in more than the permitted/expected ways available… And there is damage accumulated, visible scarring as a history on the plant’s body.
Do I not pinch away, tuck up, neaten, tidy those aspects of myself? And do I not do it at a cost to the unique – and perhaps lucky, fortunate, blessed – additional branchings and out-leafings of my soul?
That little plant put no excess energy into repairing the damaged leaf, no cosmetic surgery or psychological cover-up – it focused on reaching the sunshine, growing, helping the clover to flower, offering nectar for honeybees and oxygen for me.
Maybe I should spend less time looking inward and tending my hurts, or trying to tidy up messy me so as to show a better face to the world. Maybe I should look outward and upward, putting energy into growing and helping and giving.
Thanks, little clover stem. You did bring me luck this morning.