I recently had the good fortune to celebrate another birthday. Another milestone. Not because of any particular numbered birthday. Numbers stopped being significant when I reached 22. But I’m still here, and I’m grateful for for being upright and in my right mind. Most of the time.
A friend who is very thoughtful and knows me quite well gave me a glass jar filled with tulips waiting to burst into bloom. The first one came out yesterday, a deep, rich red that smiled back at me. The others will follow soon, like a bright bowl of happiness.
Having been raised in the Chicago area, tulips have always been the reminder that winter wouldn’t last forever. That gray skies and grayer sludge were not among the eternal. So when I’d see those tulips popping their heads out of the ground after the agonizingly long short month of February, I knew sunny days would soon arrive.
But I now live in Florida. We don’t have blustery, sleety, snow-filled winters. We have temperatures that may drop to freezing but don’t stay there. And those tulip bulbs that need to be in that cold, cold ground before they bloom have to be treated differently here.
My daughter’s in-laws are from Holland, Michigan, home of the Tulip Festival. Every spring the town is filled with a kaleidoscope of color as tulips bloom everywhere. A plethora of posies, so to speak. Heather’s mother-in-law gave me a variety of bulbs I could plant in my garden. At just the right time. (Which would have given me time to start a garden because I don’t really have one. I seem to be better at killing things than growing them.) But it meant keeping them in the refrigerator for several months before that right time came.
I’m not sure what happened, but the bulbs never made it. When I pulled them from the refrigerator in anticipation of planting them, they were covered with a funky color of mold and smelled as if something had died. Badly. I was baffled at what I must have done wrong. I was saddened that the kindness of the gift would never result in real flowers. And I felt cheated that I couldn’t grow a simple tulip.
I’m one of those bulbs. Their promise is one of beauty and growth, but only if they’re handled well, planted correctly. My life can be filled with possibilities and hope, if I’m planted in the right place. Nurtured in a way that will help me grow. Only the Master Gardener knows how to care for this plant well, and I need to sink my roots deeply in Him.
“And why worry about your clothing? (Or anything else you think you need.) Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, He will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?” Matthew 6:28-30
We’re all flowers looking to be planted well, to grow beautifully. It makes sense that the One who created us would know how best to plant and nurture us.
Why would I ever fight what’s proven to be best for me? Why would I plant myself where I couldn’t grow?