Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Magnificent Honeysuckle Vine

In my opinion, the honeysuckle vine is one of the world's prettiest flowers. This week, this beautiful and relatively unknown flower species opened in the Gethsemane Prayer Garden. As a result, I felt led to share this writing about this most ornate flower, as taken from my book A Garden of Love.


Peace

Outstanding! I am so captivated by this most intricate and lovely vine. Do you see the little two-inch long pink trumpets? I can imagine hearing them boldly declare their warmest greeting, "Enter, for the Lord is in this place, offering peace to you!" As Paul wrote many times in his epistles, "May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace" (Ephesians 1:2).

Honeysuckle Vine

One of the loveliest of the newer plants to be introduced in many years is the ornate trumpet honeysuckle vine, hybridized with other twining honeysuckles to create a flower of immense beauty. Elongated tubes of either rosy-pink or pastel-orange are offset with a soft cream colored throat, more intricate than any glass blower could prepare. The stamen protrudes in an extended form from the trumpet-shaped throat in hopes of luring a passing insect as an open invitation for pollination. The many trumpets seem to be calling out to both the insect and the garden visitor, "Come and enter in, welcome to a special place, a place of new beginnings, a place of satisfaction and peace."

All of the varieties of honeysuckle vines grow tall, often up to twenty or twenty-five feet, as they search for full sun on a strong supporting structure. Some vines are more fragrant than others – the European honeysuckle is considered the sweetest. The hummingbirds with their long needle-like beak seem to particularly enjoy the nectar from all the twining honeysuckles vines, darting from flower to flower, from cluster to cluster.

If the honeysuckle vine is positioned at the entrance to the garden, the trumpet-shaped flowers seem to herald the visitor, "You are about to enter a most special place." In some ways this is reminiscent of the armies of angels at the birth of Jesus, "praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased'" (Luke 2:13, 14). The peace and presence of our Lord is in the garden.

Garden Entrance

Jesus came to earth to give a gift of peace, and his expectation was and is that the gift would be used. "I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid" (John 14:27). Then, only a few days later, that gift was received.

"'Peace be with you,' he said. As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord! Again he said,'Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.' Then he breathed on them and said, 'Receive the Holy Spirit'" (John 20:19-22).

These verses indicate that the gift of the Holy Spirit is a gift of peace. Many times the Scriptures associate the Holy Spirit with power – the power of supernatural healing, for example. Here, however, the peace that the Holy Spirit brings is peace of mind and heart in oneness with God – this deep fellowship is one that is immersed in love.

"Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you" (2 Corinthians 13:11).


Copyright © 2009 Bible Discernments. Excerpt from A Garden of Love by Thomas B. Clarke, a gift book about love for anyone that enjoys flowers.A Garden of Love is available on Amazon as well as at www.agardenoflove.com.

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End Note: The overall theme for this series of articles is flowers and plants, showing how they point to love. Sometimes I write 'how to' do something, other times the emphasis is a status update, or the article will be about how a plant or flower touched my heart. All of these writings are based on plants from the Gethsemane Prayer Garden in Syracuse, NY. Please consider some of the other blog articles: Index of Articles About the Gethsemane Prayer Garden.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Lovely Wood Hyacinth: Joy or Disappointment?

I was surprised as I walked into the Gethsemane Prayer Garden – Tuesday had been a hot, sweltering day and now the temperatures had just begun to drop. On the south side of the garden, a small but lusciously harmonic collection of wood hyacinth had been in full bloom on Saturday, and I had intended to show our volunteer staff their beauty.

My surprise was what happened from Saturday until Tuesday. The temperatures had soared into the 90's, which for late May in our area is not common. The National Weather Service announced that record temperatures were recorded in several of the surrounding cities, and the humidity was very oppressive. My shock was that the flowers had expired. Gone! A tiny bit of light blue on a couple of the stalks, but pretty much all of them had gone to seed.

That was two weeks ago; a similar event happened this week as the temperatures again reached into the 90's. The deep purple columbine had been in full blossom at the end of May, as described in my previous blog about Contentment. The stress of this latest heat-spell had caused many of these beauties to look far less than content, as many of their petals had dropped onto the dark brown mulch.

One lady expressed her disappointment that the heat would cause such a sudden change in the garden, so I attempted to console her. Our beautiful 'Bonica' roses usually do not open until around Father's Day, about ten days away. This year, by the end of this surge of heat and humidity, these exhilarating pink blossoms will begin to reveal the fullness of their beauty. Likewise, the deep purple bellflower (many call them Campanula) will open early this year with their soft and gentle blossoms. I explained to her that the intense heat brings both its disappointments and its joys.

Stress in the garden brings about change, having both negative and positive effects. Stress in life also brings about change. Sometimes in life we dwell on those things that we are giving up; the wood hyacinth flowers no longer blossom or our last child moves out of the home for a new season in his or her life. It is often hard to give up those things that we love and have become so accustomed to. Very hard. Stress also has its positive aspects but we often can't deal with it because we don't want to give up our past.

Our spouse disappoints us (again); our work situation suddenly ends; a parent or other family member dies; a tragedy hits our home. Sometimes all hope seems to be gone and we cannot endure any further.

The daffodils and tulips in the garden would not be possible without the stress of winter. The yellow, orange and red foliage in the fall only comes after the stress of cooler nights and shorter days. Soon after the fall leaves hit the ground, the barrenness can be thought of as either the beauty that was lost or the colors that will come.

pin oak I can't change the weather and neither can you. I can't make the drought have thirst quenching rain. I can't cause the damaging effects of a hailstorm to go away. I have to accept them and to hope for something positive to come out of the trials.

All of us have a little bit of 'Elijah syndrome' within us, wanting to call out to God for a change in the weather. He spoke the word and there was no dew or rain for four years; he spoke the word again and a great rain fell on the land (I Kings 17-18). Remember, it was God, not Elijah, that brought the drought and then brought the drenching rain; Elijah only spoke what he prophetically saw. Elijah did not command the stress, but his word was reliable because of his relationship with God. It was God that was using the stress of the weather to bring about a change in Israel.

Our responsibility? Give up and let God.

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End Note: The overall theme for this series of articles is flowers and plants, showing how they point to love. Sometimes I write 'how to' do something, other times the emphasis is a status update, or the article will be about how a plant or flower touched my heart. All of these writings are based on plants from the Gethsemane Prayer Garden in Syracuse, NY. Please consider some of the other blog articles: Index of Articles About the Gethsemane Prayer Garden.