Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Snapdragon Story

May 20, 2012

Dear Friends,

In spring as I watch life emerge in my garden, the process teaches me without fail. This spring has been no exception.

This spring’s lesson actually began two years ago with a dead lilac bush. That spring revealed that the lilac bush at the south side of my house was obviously dead--quite  unattractively so. Initially, I was fairly patient with this state of affairs, expecting that when the landscape people repaired the irrigation system, fertilized the lawn and prepared the grounds for summer that they would remove the bush. This did not happen. It did not happen in autumn either.

Spring came again (last spring, a year ago), and I again anticipated that in the process of spring work that the dead bush would be replaced. This did not happen.

Summer came again and winds again blew added urban debris into the dead bush. While the landscape company carefully watered grass and pruned bushes and weeded public areas, the dead bush remain untouched. In addition to old debris, it now provided a resting place for a sack from a fast food lunch and a plastic bag from a local grocery.

The dead bush and the debris it sheltered was unattractive, but my attitude became even more so. It was the responsibility of the landscape people to care for this eyesore, I thought with regrettable self-righteousness, and this miserable dead bush is clear evidence of their neglect of their job.

Then one day while watering my hanging baskets, I spied some green showing under the dead branches. “Just look,” I said to myself, “they’ve left this go until the weeds have started. Well, it’s their problem, not mine.”

By midsummer the green “weeds” astonished me by becoming a clump of snapdragons. Supported by the dead branches of the old lilac, the snapdragon stems grew tall and flowered extravagantly, resting giant white blooms against the dead branches that supported them against the wind.

Fall came, and this autumn the landscape people did remove the dead bush. But now they worked cautiously. They understood that the "green" was not weeds--the the snapdragon was still blooming despite an early frost.

This spring came early. About the time the crocus and early tulips appeared, I found the first green shoots of the snapdragon plant. It had survived the winter and had started its new year. Now it is May; the clump of snapdragons has already nearly doubled, and is full of tall spectacular white blooms that now stand on their own.

The lilac has gone. But the snapdragon that now lives against the south wall of my house challenges me to think again about God’s economy and new life in a place of loss. In a world of city streets and manicured lawns, I cannot imagine how wind dropped snapdragon seed into safe lodging in a dead lilac bush. I cannot explain how “neglect” from a human point of view resulted in shelter for new life.

But I know that in life and relationships, for everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the sun.

Thinking with you this week that we can safely trust the changes and loss in our lives to One who grows a snapdragon safely in the dead branches of a lilac bush.

See you next week.


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