The doorway sentinel she stands out this awkwardly beautiful lady in yellow amidst a row of ordinary town houses neatly adorned in bushes. For weeks neighbors wondered what on earth was growing as she stretched taller towards the light nearly a story and a half tall. And I stood back in amazement. Who would have thought?
It was a few months back when Hope Girl brought it to me in a decorated cup for Mother’s Day. She’d potted it at school all ready to be popped in the ground and I didn’t want to burst her bubble that perhaps it might not sprout (after all my luck at gardening has been quite slim as a married woman) so we dug a hole anyways, tucked the seed away in a nice bed of dirt and forgot about it.
But someone else hadn’t…
She sprouted right up and never stopped reaching for the sun and I have never been more aware of how little faith I have.
How many times have I been given a seed of hope only to bury it under a sea of worry and forgetfulness?
The morning sprints to the front door, daily reports on how our sun lady was faring became moments of joy in the mundane. And the day she blossomed! What a celebration. It was as if she had been cheered open. And it wasn’t an immediate opening, but a petal at a time unfurling and no amount of begging or pleading could rush her. In the fullness of time she would be all there…just like we the believers in this messy process of blooming that can’t be hurried or forced but requires patience and grace lavished and a good watering of the Word and above all LOVE. Love for each other, for ourselves for the amazing God who loved us first and holds all our fragile frail together. It’s easier to take the road of judgement withering spirits instead of suffering long as the growing transforms.
And then at the height of all her beauty she took a bow.
A bow to our wildly wonderful God. Giver of all growth and good things beautiful. The stage for a season hers the glory His forever.
I tripped into work early when I was just a young’un before babes and baking took up waking hours, for weddings won’t wait and a bride can’t do without flowers and these bouquets needed adjusting. I smile for there they are, pink tulips stretching bright faces above all the other blooms as if to say “I’m still here alive and well and you can’t stop me from springing taller”. Never fearing they’ve been cut from their source of life…all the while they’re dying they still keep growing. And it’s enough to drive a florist to her knees all this constant tweaking, but me I’m grinning ear to ear and talking to each one as I pull ’em back down again. Maybe that’s why I love tulips more than any other bloom you’ll bring me. They are this enigma of the flower world because nothing can stop them until the last petal falls. They’ll keep on transforming, changing because no matter where you place them or how you’ve shaped them they find a way to surprise. These blossoms always outgrow the vessel in their stretching towards the light.
Years later they still make me smile and I find myself tripping to the grocery for a friend having an ‘I can’t do this anymore kind of day’ and I know just the thing for her….for me. And these red tulips all cheer and jollity dance in the light as I pull them together in bouquets and the note that’s penned is as much for this weary soul as for her, reminders that we, my friends, are unique, beautiful, chosen, FORGIVEN…and nothing on this sometimes seemingly God forsaken earth can separate us from His Love no matter the trial or the test weighing hard.
There’s not much left of them a week later but I’m still finding myself sprinting down stairs just to see for myself these twins in red forever reaching out. And I’m beaming over morning coffee as these two are standing taller than the day before with a mind all their own and I want to be them. I don’t want to ever stop growing up, enlarging out, unfurling myself until the final moment I cross to glory. And there’s beauty in all this growing and it’s messy and uncomfortable too because it’s easier to choose the familiar path, but it’s the flourishing life I want; the life of resilience, of perseverance. I want to be the soul who bounces back and bravely believes. Who looks at life through the lens of a challenge not a crisis. Who at the very core of herself resounds with this:
“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” ~James 1:2-4
So my friend, go out there…grab some tulips and like them BLOOM! Stretch for the light. There’s beauty in all this growing, in all this reaching all the way till glory.