To say that I do not have a green thumb is an understatement. I have had very bad luck with plants. I want to be one of those people who till a garden and fill my house with flowers and plants. However, that has not been the case.
One year I tried growing cherry tomatoes in a pot on our deck. The plant was $10. The fertilizer was $5. Two bags of the special soil were $10. And the special treatment for blight on the plant was $15. Total spent: $40. The birds and squirrels ate almost all of the surviving tiny tomatoes that grew. Only one tomato made it to our kitchen – one very tiny and expensive tomato!
So when we got a lilac bush as a gift I did not expect a good outcome. And it seemed like I might be right. It did not blossom or thrive in our yard. We transferred it to a pot on our deck. We only got a few blooms that year.
However, during 2020, the spring when everything was closed and gloomy and dark our lilac bush went dark too. I looked out at it and said, “Really, don’t you think you could push out one flower to bring some joy!” Perhaps that is not the way that one is supposed to talk to plants.
Maybe, what I should have told the lilac bush was that I have loved its fragrant, purple blossoms ever since I was a child. My family had a lilac bush in our yard and every May I got to cut some of the flowers and wrap them in a wet paper towel, enclose the stems in foil and bring them to school. Then my teacher would place those beautiful flowers in front of our classroom’s May shrine. I was always so proud of them as they paid tribute to Mary.
Since then I have loved to bury my nose in lilacs and inhale their sweet smell and so many memories.
Last year, amid the pandemic, I also told the lilac bush that I did not think it would make it. I envisioned looking at another year of nothing this spring. I thought that this would be the year the small bush got pulled up and replaced with some annuals that would provide flowers for at least a few months.
But something wonderful happened this spring. The lilac has spoken. Actually, it is shouting, “Look at my green leaves and pretty purple buds growing. Watch me as I survive a late April snowstorm, hail and heavy winds.”
The lilac has said: “HOPE!”
It has told me that this year will be different. This is a time when places are opening, vaccines are spreading and optimism abounds.
It said to not give up, It said that things can look bad just wait and believe.
And I do.
I know that this plant will not always bloom. I know that I will not become a great gardener. But I also know enough to look for signs of hope amid so much difficulty.
I see it beyond plants, of course. I see it in churches that continue to do works of charity while adapting to restrictions. I see it in the faces of health care workers who give tirelessly of themselves. I see it in our local librarians who have been a lifeline for so many. And I see it in children who bring joy to the everyday.
So take a moment.
*Ask what gives you hope.
*Wonder how you can bring hope to others.
*Think of those who are spreading hope each day. Maybe take the time to send a thank you to those who help, or inspire or offer hope to you.
And then plant something – literally or figuratively. (Seeds of faith and/or marigold seeds?)
And I will spread these words in the hope that they bring HOPE and the recognition that God is good all the time.