I can’t seem to get over the flowers these days.
For the last three weeks, the farthest I’ve gone from my home is about half a mile. Most days after lunch, my family and I take a quick walk around our tiny neighborhood loop. We’ve been sheltering-in-place, like much of the rest of the country, and these daily walks have given us some stability while the rest of our lives float in uncertainty.
The house behind us has a row of daffodils standing at attention like bright yellow soldiers who guard a white picket fence. There are light pink magnolias on a side street close to ours, and lavender crocuses surprise us at the base of mailboxes and tree trunks.
On our walks, I see people in the neighborhood I’ve never seen before. We silently obey the social distancing rules, taking turns shuffling our bodies into the street so others can have the sidewalk while we pass. I see weariness in their eyes — even the cheerful ones. No one looks put together. The loss of our clean-cut hair confirms this common understanding that we’re all hanging by a thin thread.
The news today predicts more job losses, more death, more waiting, more disparities, and more discouraging numbers than I can keep count of. I cry with gratitude when I see photos of nurses and doctors whose red marks and indentations, paths of stress and sorrow, line their faces. My friend with an autoimmune disease, a nurse, texts me to say how scared she is before heading into a COVID unit, and the fear I feel for her is visceral. I feel a gash in the face of hope when I read vitriolic accusations online, get a message about someone else who’s lost their job, or feel the anxiety rising in my Asian American body when I am in public and don’t know how a stranger will respond to my existence beside theirs, like Grace wrote about here.
The world weeps, and yet God still speaks through petals and green stems.
Every year between October and April, I manage to forget how beautiful spring is. But this year, it’s more than my yearly winter amnesia. The flowers this year seem audacious. The weight of COVID-19 hasn’t kept them from rising. These gentle symbols of resurrection stand straight up to salute the sun.
My kids bring their own cameras on our short walks. They take note of dandelions and find funny faces, hairstyles, and personalities in the shapes of the trees. We observe tiny gray fish in the neighborhood retention pond, witness a duck take flight from the water, and look at the greenish pond scum lining the rocks by the water’s edge. We’ve become a family of tourists in our own neighborhood. We are thirsty for wonder.
We pass by an elderly gentlemen’s house and notice that he’s in the garage. Stopping on the sidewalk from fifteen feet away, my husband calls out for him, asking him how he’s doing, if he’s holding up okay. He’s wearing a gray sweatshirt and black athletic shorts, carrying an American flag out to place in the holder on the outside of his garage. My boys run ahead after waving hello. He asks our daughter how she is by name, smiling gently at her as she grips her Daddy’s leg. I tell him to let us know if he needs anything, reminding him we’re just down the street, always home, and happy to pick up anything he might need. His smile widens and he looks at my husband, then me, and says, “I’m much older than you, but I still remember how scared we were when polio was going around. We were all so scared. Everyone was scared.”
He has the best yard in the neighborhood, and it’s not for any kind of suburban competition. We often see him outdoors, caring for every patch of grass, tree, and flower bed living around his home like they are his children.
He pauses, then says, “It feels scary right now, but we’ll get through it.”
His words pull me from the intensity of our current pandemic, and I think about how many sorrows and springs he’s already lived through. I wonder if he’s always paid such close attention to the flowers and people’s feelings, as he seems to today.
I keep going back to the account of Lazarus’ death in the book of John. The Holy Spirit brings it to mind, and I linger in the sentences where Martha tells Jesus that if only He was there, things would’ve been different. I feel her desperation below my ribs where I keep the same haunting questions undercover.
And every day, on our walk, He nudges me back towards the flowers. He shows me how they fight with tenderness and mercy and reminds me to do the same. He relieves me of my fear for a moment, as He refocuses my sight on the blooms and the neighbors He’s placed all around me. There’s so much to notice, consider, and love – even in loss and a continued quarantine. He reminds me that He weeps and waters the earth with all of our sorrow, and tomorrow, though it feels too late, He will always come.
I think He’ll come with flowers.
Through flowers, God shows us how they fight with tenderness and mercy and reminds us to do the same. -@tashajunb: Click To Tweet Leave a Comment
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
This pandemic has given new meaning to the phrase, “Stop and smell the roses.” When we are all busy, running around like chickens with our heads cut off, we don’t stop to smell the roses or take in the breathtaking beauty of the millions of flowers in a multitude of colors and designs that God has created for us…just for us because He loves us and does this simply for our enjoyment. I love flowers, plants and gardening. My yard has really outdone itself this spring. Every plant seems to be standing boldly and saying, “Hey, look at me.” I don’t think I’ve enjoyed my yard as much as I have this spring. I can’t wait for the lavender plants to burst into bloom in May. Every couple of weeks something new comes alive. The peonies have just started to pop open and I can’t wait to bring their fragrance inside and make an arrangement that will bring me joy. Yes, the flowers do indeed fight for us. Let us take time and behold their beauty and remember God’s goodness.
Bev, I’m so glad your yard has outdone itself this spring and I’m glad you are enjoying it. All of it like little love notes from the One who loves you.
This is beautiful. We live in Florida so the shift in season isn’t as pronounced but I was thinking something similar the other day when listening to the birds. Theirs songs were so full of joy. Nature is truly teaching us to trust The One who has us in His hands. Thank you for your wonderful reminder ♥️
Rachelle, I lived in Orlando for a year, so I know what you mean about the seasons. However, I remember how beautiful the spanish moss was in the trees…and one tree with dark green, glossy leaves that bloomed the most beautiful white flowers. I’m not sure what it was called, or what season it bloomed in.
I’ve been noticing the birds as well. It’s nice to listen to them a little more intently.
Absolutely beautiful in so many ways!
God bless your talent for writing and for noticing the touch of God and hearing His whispers.
Teriz, thank you so much for those kind words.
This sharing is beautiful, just like a flower! Thank you so much!
Thank you, Peggy!
Michele Morin says
My daffodils shine brightest against the backdrop of last fall’s decay.
I am noticing a lot of little gifts I might’ve taken for granted or missed entirely in a “normal” season.
Yes, the daffodils are like stars of the grass, aren’t they? I watched you tube videos of Makoto Fujimura painting daffodils and it ministered to me. I’m glad you are noticing the little gifts that can be easy to miss, Michele.
Tasha, such a simple but extravagant example in the beauty of flowers. God is with us, Jesus is with us no matter what I’d going on in the world. Every morning His blessings, his mercies are new…
Yes, it’s true, Jas. I’m grateful for the mercy of these beautiful messengers.
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
Tasha we have so much to learn from the flowers that we look at in Gardens. They look so pretty and look at all the pretty colors. How lovely they make the house look. We look at people who even buy flowers to put in a vase put in water to make their house look nice for a couple of weeks. What joy they bring us. How about us doing the same at this time of year during this Covid 19 leaving a bunch outside someone front door to say we are thinking of them to brighten them up. Especially if down and lonely. Especially if not getting out or can’t get out. If home help can’t take them out etc. To make their home brighter. Send them a we text or phone call to say we have done that too show Gods love to them. Then they can put them in vase and brighten their home. Know someone is thinking of them. That they care and showing them Gods Love. Put a we note in with them. To cheer them up. You never know that could make all the difference to that person and make there day that you cared enough. Then looking at the flowers from that person can brighten that person day. Plus everyday when they see them on their table and read your kind note. Especially if you are saved. It says you send your love and are praying for them at this time. You will be round to see them or something like this when it all over to chat to them in person. Give them your number if you want so. If you are that type if well enough they need anything they can ask you. You will get it for them at the shop or just a chat they can phone you. This way through the Flowers they can bring Gods Love into someones life. I say Amen to that. If able to do that for someone not able to get out. Love Dawn Ferguson-Little xx
Dawn, that is a beautiful, wonderful idea. I love it, and at your suggestion, I am going to do just that when more of our flowers bloom.
This is so beautiful! Thank you! I live in coastal North Carolina and spring has come much earlier than usual and seem even more beautiful. I have so noticed and enjoyed all of the flowers this year as they’ve unfurled themselves over the past several months. They refresh my soul with beauty, give me hope and remind me that God is still on His throne, He loves us and is with us. Kind of like the Grinch couldn’t stop Christmas from coming, the virus couldn’t stop spring from coming. God will bring beauty out of ashes.
Karen, I love thinking about them “unfurling,” or beauty unfurling during such a heavy time. I’m glad North Carolina’s spring has popped up and brought courage to you over the last few months.
Melanie Chitwood says
Thank you, just beautiful.
Thanks so much, Melanie!
Beth Werner Lee says
Such beautiful and encouraging words, thank you! I’ve been noticing the birds still singing. Gifts from God, reminding me always to worship him.
The birdsong has encouraged my spirit too. Thank you, Beth!
Nancy Ruegg says
The flowers do indeed fight for us, drawing our attention to God’s loving care (Matthew 6:28-30) for starters. I was working in the yard this morning and noticed the first tiny buds on the rose bushes. Just for fun I looked up what pink roses signify:
grace and elegance. I had to smile. First, God’s grace is surely on display these days as he graciously sees us through this pandemic day by day, attending to our needs just as He’s promised (Philippians 4:19). Second, I looked up elegance to see if a particular definition would suit our Creator God. Sure enough, the word can refer to scientific precision and exactness. Isn’t that what we see in the spiraled petals of a rose? On a much grander scale, we see his scientific precision in the orbits of the planets and his exactness in the engineering of ecosystems. And praise God it is ALL under his capable control. Sometimes I need to be reminded of that. Thank you, Tasha!
Nancy, I love this! Thanks for looking those things up and sharing it here with us! Indeed, the intentionality in all of it brings us back to reminders of God’s love. There’s so much I don’t understand, but I’m grateful for these things to notice, ponder and receive.
Theresa Boedeker says
Love this. Reminds me of Psalms and all the times the writers talk about how nature sings God’s praises and worship him. And if God cares and dresses the flowers of the field so beautifully, how much more he must care for and dress us. Flowers are my weakness. They bring me joy and help me remember the good in this world. Maybe that is why a few years ago I started taking pictures of them. So this spring I have been walking every day in our neighborhood. Noticing the flowers. Making mental notes that the blooms are just about perfect for catching on film (figuratively) or to return tomorrow. Catching the blooms just as they open, just after they open, and when fertilized. And each time I do, I feel a bit of joy slip into my soul.
Theresa, I can’t stop taking pictures of them either! And just like you, noticing them brings me joy as well. They are such small things – but so powerful. Thanks for sharing.
I love this! My husband and I also take walks around our neighborhood in these crazy times. We’ve notice the beautiful azaleas this Spring open, bloom and renew! I can’t help but also notice how many beautiful birds are singing so sweetly around us— so joyful and happy in God’s creation. I am reminded of the verse— “Behold, I am doing a new thing! Do you not perceive it?”
A sweet simple reminder that God makes all things beautiful in His time and He is still in control! And, I breathe in a long sigh of relaxed relief and His perfect peace. I believe all of us can relate to this on so many levels— thank you for sharing your heart!❤️
That’s lovely, Juliana. It’s encouraging to imagine the way that God is speaking through creation to so many of us, in such a quiet, but powerful way. I’m so grateful for that!
Jennifer Adams says
Beautifully written and deeply impactful for me today. I needed to read your neighbors’ reminder- that we’ve been here before. I’m so grateful to you for sharing.
Thank you, Jennifer. I’m so glad the words met you today, and I’m glad you are here.
I love this Tasha. It’s so true. My grandma remembers the polio scare as well and not being able to leave her yard as a kid. I wonder what our kids will remember of this? God always call us towards Him in His creation, now we are looking for it.
Thank you, friend. I’m glad we are looking for it-noticing and listening to the lessons she shares!