The gardener is probably the most optimistic of all hobbyists. Few others would take such delight in putting the nondescript bulbs of miniature daffodils or the shriveled rhizomes of a Snake Iris into the ground.
First of all, dirt. Who else really loves dirt? Second, these little nuggets of hope are pretty ugly, on their own, at this time of year. The truism, “It’s what’s inside that counts,” is key here. These little bulbs are actually beautiful to me. In the same way that a mother sees the potential in her less-attractive offspring, I look at these nondescript hunks of underground vegetation, and I have to smile with admiration.
Ugly, flaky bulbs + nasty old dirt + a little labor = the promise of graceful shapes and amazing colors bursting forth in springtime!
I even lay awake some nights thinking about how fabulous my back yard will look.
Now, I know as well as you do, especially if you have seen my flower beds, that it is never really as good in real life as it is in my imagination. But I got some great deals by sharing bulb orders with friends, so there are enough new bulbs that some spots are sure to be pretty fabulous. There will not be my usual problem of sowing sparingly.
My Dad, an atheist, once told me, “Onions are the only plant with a soul.” His reasoning was that they get truly disgusting as their outer shells rot in the ground, and the core rises up as a new green sprout. He wasn’t a big flower fan, or he would have recognized the lily as a close relative of the Allium family. He would have seen what happens to a bulb as it starts to grow.
The lesson is simple though, and he understood it. I’m sure Dad understood that seeds and grains have a similar life within, although without the large, mushy outside.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24 NASB).
We know there is something inside us that lives on after death. There is also something inside us that sings and rejoices when all of our world sometimes seems rotten. This is the part of me that is singing as I plant the crocus, daffodils, and ipheion. It may look like a dirty job to you in the grey garden under the grey skies,j but you would be wrong. It’s Springtime, and I love it!
These past two weeks have not been the brightest in my life, but I won’t bore you with the details. We have all had those weeks or even months that we wish we could just erase. And yet I surprised myself by closing my office door during the worst of it, and singing hymns, and just being still and knowing there is a God who cares for me.
It seemed like the natural thing to do. Why? Probably because it’s Springtime!
It’s always Springtime. The bulbs remind me. So does that oniony soul inside.