I’m no gardener, but this past October I planted tulip bulbs in the ground and shared more from the batch with some dear friends. As winter approached, I bought amaryllis bulbs, planted two in pots, and gave away still more. I wasn’t looking for a new hobby, and I don’t revel working in the dirt.
I planted because I needed to believe that something as ugly and dry as a bulb could surprise me by sprouting, growing, and blooming. I needed the possibility of the picture of resurrection, and I needed witnesses to walk along with me in it.
Hope is fragile, and it can be elusive. As my kids grow into their late teens, and as I seek vocation and new meaning from life, I find so much unknown, and it scares me. We are each of us walking winding roads these days, with a mixture of joys and lessons-still-to learn. It’s hard to see where these roads might lead, and trust has never been my strongest suit. It was so much easier when the kids were younger and I could choose everything for them, when the world was as small as their elementary school and soccer fields. It’s different now, and so are they, and so am I.
Now, when the world feels utterly unpredictable, I need to hold hope in my hands.
My friends and I agreed to plant the bulbs, dry and dead-looking as they were, and to encourage each other through the winter and spring. There’s so much that happens just under the surface that you can’t see, after all. And just because you can’t see what’s happening doesn’t mean it’s not happening.
So we’ll wait and we’ll watch. We’ll see the amaryllis bulbs poke through first, in the warmth of our homes. They’ll bloom red and joyful in our kitchens as the sunlight streams through the windows.
But it’s the tulip bulbs outside that will occupy my mind mostly, through a cold and snowy New England winter. The little bulbs are already working hard, out of my sight and without my help, using what’s been inside them all along to burst forth into something amazing. By the time we see the evidence of their green shoots, so much of the work will have been done already, without me.
I planted, but God will make them grow.
It takes a great force of faith to envision spring in the midst of winter, to imagine a shoot coming through the cold, dark earth, to know it’s been in process all along. This is the way God is calling me to operate in my life today, to believe even when it’s hard, even if I can’t always see.
He is making something beautiful just outside my reach. In this winter of my life, He is turning my thoughts to spring.