On Tuesday, we visited a royal park in Beijing. The rain that had threatened all morning became a reality, dampening what would have been a glorious afternoon of walking and enjoying the sights. My family group had only one umbrella among the four of us. It was a wet experience.

My translator purchased several lotus flower centers, as they contain edible seeds. We peeled them on the bus back and my buddy, Lily, started to break apart the stem. Inside, translucent fibers kept the parts together. My translator explained to us that the action was significant. The lotus stem symbolizes something broken, yet still connected.

Lily continued to break the stem and finger the threads. As I watched her, I wondered if the symbolism meant something to her. Does she feel a mental or emotional connection to her parents? They are not only responsible for her existence, but also for the growing up process. A child’s need for love and affirmation does not disappear simply because her parents do.

The fibers of the stem reminded me of a spider web. It may be nearly invisible, but it’s strong and sticky and doesn’t go away. The idea the plant represents—being separated but still attached—applies to all of us, really. There is an eternal thread that connects us to Someone Else. Physically, we are not all orphans, but spiritually, we are. I am thankful for that adoption, open to everyone, which can make us whole again.

— Patti Diaz

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