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.