Sunday, April 5, 2020

Crushed, Stepped on and Then...

I grew up with a mother who loved flowers--perennials in particular. These are the type of flowers that come up year after year. We also put in a vegetable garden when I was a child but this was of secondary importance to the flowers. When I became an adult I shared my mother's love of gardening but I always had a desire to grow food. Everything in the yard had to make something even bushes. If a bush did not make food, it was my preference to replace it with something that could pull its weight in food production. This was tempered by my husband's like of some of our more mature bushes that simply remain green and look attractive. Yet last fall, my heart began to change. My heart began in a special way to open to the beauty of flowers. Of course, I always loved blossoms especially in the spring and admired them. But now the value and importance seemed to carry a new weight in my heart. There was a mix of seeing a value they brought and also a feeling that Our Lord was speaking to us through their beauty. By planting them myself I was giving God greater glory by bringing more beauty. Creating beautiful spaces where we carried out our mission work was important. Last fall there was also a strange thought that kept coming...the thought that in the spring we would need these flowers. That they would be important. And so my son helped me planting many bulbs. I sat poring over the different colors of flowers one could get and which ones we would plant. In October planting began in earnest. There was not immediate gratification that comes when one goes to a garden store and plants an annual flower plant in the summer that is in full bloom at the time of planting. The bulbs we planted were dormant and needed the cold of winter and to be under the ground to show us any flowers the following spring. We had to wait. But there was an anticipation within our hearts.

This past winter was strangely very mild and the bulbs began to poke through the soil in February, something almost unheard of in our region of the Northeast of the United States. Most commented about the early sprouts, that this was bad because cold weather might be in store and this could damage or kill the buds  and we would have to wait another year for them to bloom.

Yet the cold snap people feared never came. Through March the bulbs continued to mature and then even little flowers began to be visible. It was then, just a few weeks ago that we had some plumbing work done. On returning we found the bulbs we had been following all this time crushed. They had been stepped on. The beautiful buds were destroyed. A couple of intact flowers remained. It was a sad sight. We were so disappointed. Trying to keep my spirits up I tried to let go of it and had the happy thought that maybe the following spring we would have flowers. Not this year I thought but next. We had to wait. It would be okay.

Yet we were to have a big surprise. As the rains came and the warm sun, something amazing happened. The bulbs did not give up. They kept growing. Even the bulbs we thought were completely destroyed managed to display amazing beauty. The smell! Who could describe the smell of hyacinth? This is the best part of these bulbs. Even more important than their beauty is their smell. They smell heavenly. We did not have to wait until next year. The flowers seemed even more precious since they defied all the unfortunate effects of being trampled upon.

Today during Palm Sunday Mass I thought of these flowers. I thought of how they were crushed. Yet despite all adversities such as we are undergoing with the Coronavirus Pandemic, the bulbs bloomed and gave off a heavenly fragrance. As we go into Holy Week, let us not give up on this blessed time and say, "We will have to wait until next year to have a true 'Holy Week.'" Let us see that we are not counted out. We can still come close to Our Lord even if we cannot step foot in a Church. We can spend time with Our Lord in prayer. Our Lord does not forget us. God's Providence never fails in its designs. I would never have wished for the flowers to be trampled but something very beautiful indeed followed. Unexpected surely but possibly more precious as a result.

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