In our home garden, the flowers bloom in sequence. My beloved has planted a survey of lilies and peonies and chrysanthemums that mature in turn. In March we see blossoms in one spot, and as they whither, a different flower is opening up nearby, so there are new blooms through October. This week, the communion table at church was adorned with some of the year’s final bouquets.
Spiritual truths jump out when I look at flower arrangements. I remember a Sunday School teacher telling me as a kid that no two snowflakes are exactly alike, and that’s how God made people. Each one special, unique and precious. Truly God made everything like that - any rock or leaf or cloud is distinct from every other - and when my wife crafts bouquets, she’s never made two just the same. Her portfolio is like the world - made of difference.
The specialness comes from the passion of the artist’s heart. The arrangements are a labor of love and a practice of joy. My girl just loves flowers - planting, tending, pruning, picking and putting them together. It’s fun, it’s a gift. Again, it reminds me of church, when as a kid I was told that God loves to create, to bring life into being and send humans on paths of discovery and service. We are God’s bouquet of flowers, God’s labor of love and joy. And of course, not just human beings but the whole world. Landscapes and water cycles and critters that crawl, swim and soar. God’s holy creativity, God’s labor of love and delight.
There’s one spiritual truth I think about now, when I look at flowers, that I didn’t learn as a kid. And that is the glory of brevity. These blooms are here, today. And maybe tomorrow, maybe a few more days, but then, they go. This joy has come, and soon it will have gone.
At one time I’d have thought that was sad, regrettable. Too bad flowers don’t last. But now I realize that their brevity and fragility is in large part why we treasure them. They’re special because they’re temporary.
Why do people prefer fresh cut flowers to plastic ones? Are they prettier? In many cases, no. Is it their fragrance or how they feel to the touch? That’s probably part of it, but their scent and texture comes from the fact that they are living and passing away.
They are beautiful and ephemeral, a gift that fades. It’s their temporary nature that causes us to cherish them, to not take them for granted.
We understand that these flowers are a gift for today. That is a reminder that today itself is a gift for today. Tomorrow there will be another day, and there will be flowers after these flowers. But these flowers and this day have to be appreciated for what they are – gifts that will not stay. We ought to treasure them now, because they won’t be here forever.
This is true of so much in our lives. The toddler’s mispronunciation of spaghetti. The last day of vacation before loved ones return home. The sharing of bread and cup at Christ’s table on a given Sunday. The treasure is in the truth that this moment is not forever. It’s a gift to be embraced, right here, right now. You are in the midst of holiness. Don’t overlook it, don’t rush through it. The flowers really are beautiful.
God bless you!
Pastor Rob Leveridge