When I saw the lumpy bags of daffodil bulbs at the store I was skeptical. The eager garden center employee hovered nearby, so I asked her, “Is it worth all the kneeling, getting dirty, and waiting? Are flowers really going to come? Is there any guarantee?”
She promised the bulbs would bloom. I bought four bags and rushed to pick up my kids from school.
Before she even got in the car, I could tell my daughter was angry, like she always was these days. She saw her classmates doubled over laughing on the school lawn as we drove by. She crossed her arms and set her jaw. When we got home she slammed the car door and followed her siblings into the house.
I stayed quiet in the driver’s seat. I knew she didn’t want to talk about it. She refused to pray or be prayed for. She despised my hugs. I sighed. I’d been praying for her for so long. Would it ever get better?
I remembered those daffodils in the back of the van.
I mixed black soil and bone meal with my bare hands in the big pots in front of the porch. Then I carefully laid the bulbs pointy side up in concentric circles. I covered them with more soil and patted it all down firmly with my whole palm, just like I patted my baby daughter’s back at bedtime over a decade ago.
Already kneeling, I suddenly prayed, “God, I believe these bulbs will bloom. I believe something beautiful will come. In this pot. And in my daughter’s heart. I bury my hopes for her here, right now, in this dirt. Only You can do this. I will wait.” I wiped off my palms in the grass and walked away.
That weekend my daughter was invited to a friend’s house to hang out. Then she joined the basketball team.
It got colder. I planted winter pansies, kale, and ivy on top of the bulbs. I put the pumpkins next to the pots. Later I wrapped Christmas lights around them. I forgot about the bulbs.
The next month my daughter started telling silly jokes with a sparkle in her eyes. She went to her first dance.
It got warmer. The air smelled sweet. Birds woke us up with their singing. I saw straight green lines sticking out of the pots. There were about six of them. The next day there were more.
That night my daughter snuggled close to me on the couch. She let me pray and kiss her head when I tucked her in.
A week later I noticed tiny little swellings on all those green stalks in the pots. They grew fatter and higher. They got papery, like the paper that was around all the bulbs in the bags.
My daughter hugged me that day. Before and after school. I closed my eyes and didn’t let go until she did.
A few days later my daughter’s counselor called me in after her therapy session. With tears in her eyes she declared, “Do you see it? The healing? It’s taken a very long time, but your daughter is strong and joyful. She likes herself. It’s beautiful.”
I went home, sat on my front step and wept. I prayed over and over, “Thank you, God. Thank you.”
And there, in the pot, was the very first daffodil.
See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you. (Isaiah 42:9)
Do you have prayers you planted long ago, that still show no sign of flowering? Are you tired of waiting? Dear friend, deep underground, God is at work. Those lumpy prayers will someday unfurl into brilliant glory.