I spent the entire month of April in the dirt, along the flower beds and the garden. I doubt I’ve ever washed my hands more, and yet tiny cracks in my fingers seem permanently darkened. I can’t wash it all away, and I don’t want to.
I’m engaged with this land. Every seed or root is in a give-and-take relationship with me. I plant and water and feed good compost, and the plant grows and gives me fruit or something beautiful to lay my eyes on. This kind of work feels like an original God intention for my life. This is part the poema he wrote about me, and now it’s coming to pass. I was always to be a flower lady and a woman with dirt in her skin.
The clematis climbs the arbor out our back door and touches vines with the grapes, but no will of mine has formed the tight buds waiting in suspense to unveil. Not once did I think of the bright yellow frills inside the camellias, but even still, the edges of hot pink widened until fists of petals opened like offerings in palms.
No plan of mine makes my life more beautiful than it already is. A few weeks ago at church, the teacher brought two beautiful flowers. One was a single, cut stem — a fire red carnation. The other was an Easter lily in a planter.
Looking at my four sons, she pointed to the blooms and asked: “These flowers are beautiful, aren’t they?” Holding the one cut stem, she asked, “How will this one look in a week?” Giggling, my oldest said, “It will look dead!” Then she asked of the health of the plant in the soil. My little boys knew that even next year, a bloom will come again for the lily, especially if the teacher planted it in the ground.
Then she asked a question that may be the most important question I’ve heard in a while: “What did these flowers do to make themselves so beautiful?”
I gasped at the thought — how I do at peonies: they had nothing to do with their beauty. Then she went on to ask, “But were the flowers doing no work?”
The boys talked about it for a week, the paradox of rest and work. It is such a mystery to do the good works planned for us before the foundation of the world without conjuring a single beautiful thing on our own.
The bloom comes from abiding, from letting the root do what it does.
I love a life that gasps at the lilies by the big trash can behind the garage and the lilies popping out of the compost pile like a scanty woman from a cake. Let it be that I see the beauty in my own life like this. It’s mine, but it doesn’t belong to me. The flower fades, but the poema, the words God wrote, and the life we share in Christ with the saints — these are the things that will last forever.
Glory be to the Root.
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
One of my most favorite words in the world is the word “abide”. It is a sense of being still and remaining in the vine. If we remain in Him, and He in us then we will bear much fruit. Life giving water comes up from the root and through the vine…apart from being in the vine we can do nothing. I love how flowers remind us of the beauty of abiding every day. They do their job well and their beauty is amazing to behold. May we all take a lesson from them. Beautiful post this morning.
Thank you so much, Bev.
Lisa-Jo Baker says
This is so so beautiful Amber. I’ll be looking at bulbs a little differently this year now too.
What a beautiful mental image. Thank you so much. I can tell already I’m going to be mulling this one over today.
Amber, I love this post. And this line? “No plan of mine makes my life more beautiful than it already is.” Stopped me.
I love that we don’t have to try to make ourselves beautiful for God. We just are beautiful to Him. When we abide in Him, we reflect His glory, yes? And what can be more beautiful than that? 😉
Loved your post today.
Joanne Peterson says
This is such a good word! I had never thought of becoming beautiful without any effort of our own, but by abiding in him. Since I love flowers, and have mostly perennials, I will remember this, to abide in Him to become like Him.
This is a beautiful post. Thank you for writing this. I needed this today.
Nancy Ruegg says
Thank you, Amber, for the timely reminder that ABIDING, not striving, is the way to display God’s beauty to those around us. “Glory be to the Root!” Oh, yes!
Beth Williams says
This post reminds me of the vine and branches in John 15. If we abide in Him and He in us we will bear much fruit!
I loved the question “What did these flowers do to make themselves so beautiful?” We did nothing to make ourselves beautiful in the eyes of God! He loved us enough to send His only son to die for us. The beauty that is all around us is there only because God made it so. If we abide in Him then we will stay beautiful and produce much fruit!