Column: Wait for the Lord
When I was young, a corner of our large front yard was transformed every spring by a vibrant patch of daffodils. Because they had naturalized so well, every year the pool of flowers grew a little larger, expanding out into the lawn and sending shoots up where bulbs had never been planted. Mom would cut a few flowers for the house, which, along with some scarlet tulips from another patch of the garden, always made a gorgeous centerpiece on the dining room table.
I have always wanted to have enough daffodils and tulips of my own to replicate that memory. To that end, if you recall my writing about it, my daughter Lucy and I planted 51 bulbs last fall on the west side of our house where, it was hoped, they’d fulfill my nostalgic dreams.
About two weeks ago, Lucy came running into the house.
“Mom, Mom! The bulbs are coming up!”
My first thought, rather than joy, was, “Oh, no! Not yet!”
Perhaps you can relate. It’s been that kind of spring, hasn’t it? Too cold. Too snowy. Not yet safe for flowers. And if the most recent promised snowstorm has indeed appeared on the day of this printing — which I have no doubt it will — then, I tell you, I’m going to start doubting that spring is going to exist at all this year! I love spring. I don’t want to jump straight to summer.
I went out this morning to look at my bulbs. They seem to be Ok. The tulips’ leaves — green, edged with red — still curl protectively around the yet-to-emerge stem, and the thin daffodil leaves have just begun to inch their way up, free of blackening, withering, or frost-bitten harm. I’m so thankful!
Miraculously, the same is also the case with my amaryllis bulbs, which I only got around to planting two weeks ago. I sort of forgot about them. Then, when I finally brought them up from the basement, they sat in the mudroom for a while until — after an embarrassingly long time — Lucy and I spread newspaper on the kitchen floor, grabbed last year’s remaining potting soil from the garage, and set to work.
Every year, when I pull those bulbs out of the bucket where they’ve lived for six months, I am reminded afresh of the power of faith. They look so worthless! They’re brown and papery, roots hang stiffly from their base, and there is nothing that reminds a person of the beauty that is to come.
But experience tells me otherwise. Experience tells me that a nice, solid, unwrinkled bulb, roots firmly attached, holds magic within. Experience tells me that the brown, unappealing thing I’ve shoved into a pot will soon produce green leaves, a verdant stem, brilliant red blossoms.
We potted the amaryllis, placed them in a sunny window, and watered them with a little added fertilizer for good measure. And sure enough, they’re growing! One of them is even producing two stems.
Beauty from an ugly bulb.
Thanks, God. Perhaps spring does exist, after all.
We just have to be patient.
“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:13,14 NIV
Gretchen O’Donnell is a freelance writer who lives in Worthington with her husband and three children. She has a master’s degree from Bethel Seminary and enjoys writing about the things she sees and applying theological truths to everyday situations. Her column, The Disheveled Theologian, is published weekly. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.