I bought a hummingbird feeder. And I spent ninety-eight cents on window clings with images of birds sitting on branches. And, I bought seeds. Cosmos seeds.
I am good at planting flowers.
I am not good at keeping flowers alive.
But, every year, I have hope that the small seeds might grow.
The truth is, they do. They grow. And I forget about the fact that they need tending. I forget to water and to weed and to say kind words as I pass by on my way to the picnic table that stands watch nearby. I think the flowers will just be their lovely selves all on their own.
H always rescues them. His green thumb is part of his inheritance. He gets it from his mom.
Nearly thirty years ago, when considering where to have a wedding reception, I could think of no better place than the backyard of the house where H had grown up. His mother had extraordinary flower gardens, with varieties I’d never seen before, and she spent hours each day, digging and pulling and watering and deadheading and whispering kind words over the splendor of her garden. I think the backyard reception was her dream just as much as mine, and she spent the entire year leading up to our wedding getting the yard ready for our guests. She installed an archway over the gate which led from the front walk into the backyard, and that archway was covered in Clematis on the day of our reception. The walkway was bordered on either side with pink and white and purple Cosmos that bounced with the breeze and the joy of the day. It was better than my wildest dreams.
And so, just the other day, I bought a package of Cosmos seeds to honor her memory, her gift her love, and her green thumb. I will plant. H will tend. The seeds will grow into flowers. It will be a little bit like the Kingdom of God, encroaching on the world as we know it, and it will take all of us together to bring it forth.
The other day, I stepped outside, and I smelled Spring! And then, that night, it snowed. This is that weird time of year where one season tries to overlap the other, and the two flip-flop and play a sort of tug-of-war, leaving the rest of us juggling coats and boots with lighter jackets and shoes. It reminds me of the way the Kingdom of God is slowing overtaking the way of the world. Some days, you can smell it in the air, and other days we find ourselves digging out from the latest blast of arctic cold and snow.
I’m not sure how you’re feeling today about what you see when you look around you — at work, in your family, in your community, in your church. I know so many of you are climbing up the rough side of the mountain, and I want you to know we’ve got your back. My husband likes to quote a line from a Jimi Hendrix song, “Well, I stand up next to a mountain / And I chop it down with the edge of my hand.” So, today, I want to encourage us to keep digging out. Keep climbing that mountain. Keep chipping away at it with the edge of your hand. Know that God is for you, and he is making all things new. The Kingdom of God is closer than we think.
Some questions for you: Are you a planter, a weeder, a waterer, a gatherer, or something else altogether? When you compare the role you play in the garden, does it fit your role as part of the Body of Christ, helping to usher in the Kingdom of God? Is it Spring, yet?