It started with the red wine shoots of peonies, pushing up with Goliath-like strength from below the ground. Raising whole areas of dirt above them as if doing push ups with the Earth itself.
It was this sudden appearance which led to my daily policing of the walkways through my flower garden. Scouring, searching for signs of life. I patrolled carefully and slowly, looking for any hint of green newness sprouting amid the dirt.
Have you ever sought one thing in life, and when looking closer, found something much different? Sometimes the things we think we are looking for are simply the crumbs along the path leading us to discover things that we could have never expected.
I found my Raspberry Wine Monarda had been growing over the winter, with a much larger footprint in my garden than last summer. I found myself feeling excited, then worried with its aggression, and thankful I had picked a fairly large area to plant it just a year and a half ago. If I’m not careful, I may find myself with a flower garden consisting of only bee balm!
A humble daffodil stem suddenly pregnant with the swelling of a flower bud within one of its green leaves. Then another appeared, then another. I couldn’t wait for the birth of their yellow, double-ruffled offspring, their due dates surely just days away.
Spikes of purple Siberian iris leaves jut out in a large clump in the middle of my garden. Their sharp-shaped leaves cutting a bold silhouette against the blue spring sky.
Clumps of salvia began stretching their new leaves upward. Beautiful, new zig-zag edged leaves as if cut out carefully with a pair of pinking shears. I dreamed of the deep purple depth they add to my garden, their tall spires luring bees nearly all summer.
Like fluffy marshmallows halfway buried within the dirt, I spied the very tops of my Asiatic lilies pushing their air-puffed way out into the sunshine.
Max found my catmint clump sprouting new leaves and without restraint he began rolling, biting, sniffing and scratching at the plant’s brand new growth. Such is the curious attraction between kitties and catmint. Without the full dose he’s able to ingest and inhale during the summer months, the new sprouts didn’t sedate him into a sleepy, curled nap. We’ll save those catmint induced naps for summer’s sluggish afternoons.
Even within the dense remains of last summer’s stems, I saw a brand new green curl of an Echinacea leaf squeezing forth. I was already dreaming of their happy, summer blooms swaying in my garden with bees humming around them busily.
Around a corner I even saw buds on my Ash Leaf spirea bush. Sharp, red-edged green leaves uncurling slowly upon branches still grey with winter.
That initial sighting of my first peony pushing up out of the dirt prompted a full-scale search for other signs of life within my garden. Searching and expecting to find some things, and instead stumbling upon other discoveries seems such a fitting metaphor for the week ahead. As we begin the final week leading up to glorious Easter, what have you found yourself searching for?
After Jesus’ death upon the cross, followers probably thought the search was over. Despite taunts from the crowd, there was no visible miraculous rescue from his torturous death upon the cross, no angels swooping him up and into the heavens for all to witness, no ground breaking rumble of thunder to shake him free of the stakes piercing his hands and ankles. It was all over. Nothing more to hope for. Even Christ himself cried to God:
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Mark 15:34
However, Mary and Mary Magdalene quietly sought out His fateful tomb three days later to prepare and anoint His body respectfully. As they must have timidly approached the tomb that morning, with the sun still low and pink the sky, they were expecting to find a tomb blocked by a rock, shrouding the death of their beloved within. They must have wondered, impossibly, how they would move that giant rock away.
But where they were expecting death, they instead found life. In the form of a rock moved away, an empty tomb and a risen Christ, they found life that would be everlasting.
So during the upcoming week, may you seek and find new life. An everlasting life through Christ, who died so that we might be forgiven. Sacrificed so that we might be saved. Betrayed, punished, beaten, humiliated, spat upon, taunted, cursed and crowned with thorns so that we might live eternally. May this week inspire you to seek and find, to hope and believe that life continues, even when it may seem to have ended.
And just like in my little flower garden, may you search and be happily amazed at the life growing both around you and within you. And may the hope of things to come, ever inspire you to continue seeking, for your reward lies in faith that there is life beyond this earthly garden.
“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Cor. 4:17-18