Unexpected roses

We’ve had a wet month here in the mid-Atlantic region — and today, in true form, it is almost 90 degrees.  So much for spring.  The lack of any kind of semi-normal seasonal transition time has made getting the garden cleaned and ready for summer quite a challenge.  There have been a number of days when I have weeded in a downpour and raced to pick up necessities at the garden store in between heavy showers.

Hence, there has been little time to reflect and there has been no “this is spring, here is my garden metaphor of the year” post.  Today, however, is your lucky day (or not, depending on just what you think of my garden metaphors).  Today, I completed Step Two of Four in the series of the worst spring jobs on my list — the weed and mulch job.

I found much in my little garden to pull my attention though, as I pulled the ugly weeds.  This year, I do not feel compelled to write about the kudzu problem (it has only begun to appear), and there are no strange hybrid roses growing anywhere. There is, however, much in God’s creation to think about it.

The one great benefit of the soggy-almost-English-spring was that the roses had an unusually long life of beauty.  I completely missed the display of tulips and daffodils because I was travelling, so I was really happy to see so many beautiful pink and red buds.  The oddity (and the reality that just mystery rosesSCREAMS that God is in control and I am not) is this — those roses were supposedly REMOVED three summers ago.  And yet, there they are — blooming in great mounds everywhere.  There are so many creation metaphors here, such as…we can damage the beauty of our faith, but we cannot destroy it…or, even when I turn away from the face of God, that majesty is still there and thriving and seeking to be in relationship with me.

Even more amusing, however, is the fact that, thinking the roses gone, I planted a day lily in the same location.  Now, I have roses blooming through a day lily, which just barely picks out among the thorns.  Oh boy, there is a lot to do with that one.

But my favorite garden reflection from today’s work has to do with the “mystery” plants that are in my garden.  Last year, I will admit it — I ignored the garden.  I removed enough weeds to keep it, well, somewhat neat, but I did not tend the soil, I did not clean and mulch, and I did not plant any new plants in the spring.  So, by fall, I was feeling a little guilty and I ordered some perenials from my favorite catalog and planted them.  Dutifully, I dug a whole IMG_0736for each plant and placed beside it the stick with its name so that I would remember what I had planted come spring.  Some 35 inches of snow later, there are only have as many new plants and all of the markings are gone.  So much for good intentions, right?  Even more puzzling however, is that there are plants in the garden that, well, I’m not sure what they are.  Are they carefully chosen perennials planted lovingly last fall?  Or, are they weeds?  Should I nurture them or should I pull them out by the roots?

My only answer to that dilemma?  I’m watching them.  I think that at some point, they will reveal their intention and I will know what action, if any, to take.  For now, I’m letting them grow.  But friends, that to me, is the best garden-faith-life metaphor I have ever, well, uncovered.  Isn’t that the way of our lives?  We have an opportunity, or a relationship, or a maybe-talent or calling, and we do not really know what it means.  We do not know what to do.  And so, we nurture, we watch, we wait.  We wait for that day when we understand if it is a flower to be enjoyed or a weed to be dispatched immediately.

I know that I am feeling more like myself, because this year, I am tending my garden.  And with enough dry days I will finish the mulching project, and maybe, just maybe, I will see which are the weeds and which are the flowers.  Or, maybe those who walk alongside me will help me figure it out.  In any case, there are surely more weeds to be pulled and many more flowers to enjoy before the winter comes.  May your life, too, be filled with unexpected roses.  And for that, we say, Amen.

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