Same old same old

Cleomes (1)

by Christine Berglund

The Cleome flowers growing along the fence look identical to what they looked like a month ago-–at least at first glance. The flower heads look the same, and they have spidery seed pods sticking out underneath each flower.

This is what gives the plant the nickname “Spider Lily.” To the untrained observer, it appears that the flower does not die off, but stays in bloom throughout the season.

What really happens on this plant is that the flowers just keep coming on at the end of the stem. Although they look like a well-formed ball, they are actually individual flower stems that take on a spherical appearance because the new mini-flowers are smaller, and the older ones droop slightly, thus giving it a curved shape.

That round mass of frilly, spikey, pink and purple puffball seems to get pushed further and further on ever-lengthening stems, sporting the spidery seed pods among the short leaves along each slender stalk.

As a gardener that watches her plants carefully, I know it is time to cut these plants down, because the thickening woody stem will prove too weak to hold up the continually growing stems. The result will be that these “Spider Lilies” will flop beyond the borders of my flower beds in a messy, tired heap.

These plants, among others, show signs of age. As the garden creator, I know their end is coming soon. The cleomes don’t know this, and they just keep putting on more and more flowers. Aren’t we humans the same?

We act as if we have all the time in the world. We even look around and say “I don’t see anything different.” The ancients fell into this same delusion.

“… I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, ‘Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.’” (2 Peter 3:1-4, ESV).

By design, there is no warning or hype leading up to the coming of the Lord. This makes it easy to dismiss the reality that there will be a day of judgment. There is nothing different happening that would show that Jesus might be coming.

“For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, ‘There is peace and security,’ then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober” (1 Thessalonians 5:2-6).

As I clip and gather the fading Cleomes to toss into the firepit, I am reminded of the transient nature of our existence on earth.

Since I’m only a garden creator and not the Creator of the world, I won’t even take a guess at whether we are living in the last days. But I know the promise of his coming is true, and I intend to be ready! How about you?

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Christine (Tina) Berglund

Christine lives in middle Tennessee with her husband Gary, a.k.a. "The Yard Boy." They have served churches in eight states where Gary has preached full-time most of their married lives. The children have flown the nest, but they "baby" their plants now, and even get to visit grandchildren once in a while.

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