The Dream of Flowers

for Jack, Amy, and Jim

blue siberiansquill

Just asking how an ugly, nasty, dirt-covered wad called a flower bulb could ignite the hope of spring. I guess the real question is why. Why does God allow this? Why does He create in this way? What are we to say?

Can I really believe in such a thing that seems not just impossible, but tragically as unreasonable as a flower bulb? But I saw the green shoots burst up through the frozen, leaf-covered ground! I noticed the bud appear, and I experienced the miracle of that azure-sky flower bell that pushed open the spring in our lives. Who could not but smile at such a thing? When the world seemed cold and dead, then, no! The flowers that came into our lives told us about THE life! We never once stopped to consider the death of the bulb below the earth. Why would we?

George MacDonald’s Polwarth character explains it:

            It is well enough known that you dig deep in any old garden… ancient, perhaps forgotten flowers, will appear. The fashion has changed, they have been neglected or uprooted, but all the time their life is hid below…[1]

We love a flower, watch it live, enjoy the freshness of the smell, especially when we crush the petals in our hands. Sometimes the petals fall on their own, one by one. Sometimes we snip the tight blooms and put them in our best crystal vases. A great life. Whole-hearted! Fragrant. Who could not but smile at such a thing? But consider what came before the flower, and what will come after. MacDonald’s Polwarth then says:

            I have sometimes wondered whether troubles… may not be as subsoil ploughs… that the seeds of lost virtues… may in them be once more brought within the reach of sun and air and dew.

What hides subsoil within you? It may be a dead, shriveled thing, like an old dream, or a rotting failure – a shameful sorrow or an ancient fear that you tried to bury once. You pretend to forget, but you wonder why you see no blue-flower joy, no fresh life. You wonder why everything seems so dead. Maybe you need a trouble.

What troubles have you had which, like a plough or shovel, have unearthed a nasty thing? We must let that trouble bring us closer to the surface, “within the reach of sun and air and dew.” Sometimes it is reasonable to cry. It is most rational also to hope, or where is the lesson of the buried flower? 

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.[2]

Isn’t a flower the evidence of things not seen that causes the rational belief in the unseen? Isn’t the trouble, then, the plough, brought close to bring us to the air, the light, the dew?

Do you have a trouble? Will it, nevertheless, eventually turn out to bloom like a blue spring flower? With 20/20 hindsight shouldn’t we earnestly look at these problems, trials, bad reports, struggles, heartaches, worries, as potential flowers? “Give the buried flower a dream,” says the poet.[3]

Just asking… what if the shovel cuts? What if the ground turns over and around you? What if the rain soaks a damp bed of fear and doubt that causes a sickness in your soul? Is that how the bulb feels?

Are we meant to consider the buried lump as a future creation of delicate beauty – opening blue? Yes, we are. God has not stopped creating. In fact, perhaps some of his best work may lie buried for now. Who could not but smile at such a thing? I know what happened on the Third Day. Just asking.


To the Thawing Wind
Robert Frost- 1874-1963
 
Come with rain, O loud Southwester!
Bring the singer, bring the nester;
Give the buried flower a dream;
Make the settled snowbank steam;
Find the brown beneath the white;
But whate’er you do tonight,
Bathe my window, make it flow,
Melt it as the ice will go;
Melt the glass and leave the sticks
Like a hermit’s crucifix;
Burst into my narrow stall;
Swing the picture on the wall;
Run the rattling pages o’er;
Scatter poems on the floor;
Turn the poet out of door.

[1]MacDonald, George. Paul Faber, Surgeon.

[2]KJV. Hebrews 11:1

[3]Frost, Robert. “To the Thawing Wind.”

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