Flowers in November. How could it be that all the way up in Northeast Ohio, a patch of backyard wildflowers could emerge in the 11th hour, as if they slept through the summer and finally heard the alarm. Winter is coming!
Still, they grew and grew, green stalks that looked like weeds, so tall I thought myself a fool for assuming I could plant flowers in a hardened plot of earth covered in rubber mulch only a few months ago. Of course only weeds could emerge from such neglected soil. It was a glorious surprise to wake up to a field of color dazzling my eyes.
The audacity of the flowers spread, as they popped their jubilant faces over the fence. Neighbors stopped by to admire the blooms. Having winterized their gardens weeks before, they had plenty of advice for me, not only new to the area, but a novice gardener by all counts. But ultimately, we just marveled at what had grown from a careless sprinkling of seeds into an impressionist masterpiece. And such late bloomers!
Every night now I wonder if it’s the night that will take them. We are well beyond the frost line, but so far no intimations of winter, just a flirting at 40 degrees. Should I be the one, reluctantly wielding my clippers, filling buckets of blooms to be doled out on the sidewalk. I’ve always wanted to be a florist. So far, I am choosing to live on the edge and appreciate their majesty from my window. Or maybe that’s just living in the moment, holding onto hope, loving what will not last, what will inevitably pass.
The beauty of the flowers, and of all creation, is what makes me think there must be something more, something everlasting. And we go into winter with the understanding, or at least the hope, that spring will come again. So in a way, the flowers are a promise. Like the rainbow…
A promise can be a difficult thing, because it takes faith to believe and if we’ve had our hopes dashed, we remember the pain that comes from disappointment, abandonment, neglect, and broken promises. Even so, when something so beautiful reaches beyond that hurt and deep into our hearts, there is the hope that maybe this time something good will come. And as believers, we are invited to say with the confidence of faith:
I know that my redeemer lives,Job 19:25 – 27
and that in the end he will stand on the earth.
And after my skin has been destroyed,
yet in my flesh I will see God;
I myself will see him
with my own eyes—I, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!
The reason I am conflicted about the flowers, the reason their beauty almost breaks my heart is partly because they remind me that our days here are numbered. But when I remember that there is a promise yet unbroken, everlasting, beyond human comprehension, I find peace in the process, and in an ancient metaphor spoken by a Prophet who would save the world:
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?Matthew 6:26 – 30
So I rejoice in this heartbreakingly beautiful experience of hope and surrender.
Writing the Book of Hope: Week 44
We’ve been writing the Book of Hope together for 44 weeks now, but it’s never too late to join us. Here’s all you need to get started.