I’m not much of a gardener. In fact, truth be told, I don’t even like gardening. I feel sacrilegious even saying that, seeing that I live in the Northwest where everyone gardens. I get green with envy (pun intended) when I see the pristine, well-tended, park-like yards of many of my friends. I’m lucky if I can get a rhododendron to bloom again the year after I plant it. Rhodies, as we affectionately call them, are the native plant of the Northwest and are nearly impossible to kill. Although I have one in my yard that’s looking like it’s about to cross over and follow the bright light into eternity.
You can’t really blame me. I grew up in the Bronx, after all. Not much call for green thumbs on the asphalt and concrete streets of Tiebout Avenue and Fordham Road. I used to pass a triangular postage-stamp of a park, if you could call it that, on my way to school. I could count on both hands the number of trees that graced its solitary path.
I did make a valiant attempt when I first moved to Washington. We purchased a house – the first one I’d ever lived in, since my growing up years were spent in apartment buildings. A yard and grass and some bushes…Oh my! This was a new experience for me. I even tried my hand at a vegetable garden…about the size of a kitchen table…but I gave up when the slugs were harvesting more of my veggies than I was.
I didn’t do much better in the house-plant department either. My husband used to sigh when I brought home another green prospect. “Poor plant,” he would say, “the minute it comes in this house there’s a death sentence over its head!” And he was right. Nine times out of ten, my lush, vibrant new plant would be dry, drooping, and dead in no time flat.
Which is why I was so surprised by this inconspicuous little African violet that I have in my master bathroom. It’s just a tiny thing, in one of those 4-inch plastic green containers. I think it was all that remained of one of those lovely planted baskets that you get as a gift. I must have kept the violet because it hadn’t given up the ghost quite yet. It’s been sitting on my sink for some time, the outer leaves yellowing and falling off. I thought it was a-goner more than a dozen times. After all, I didn’t water it regularly and pretty much ignored it. The only attention I gave it was to move it when I was cleaning the sink. Every once in a while I’d give it a drink.
One day I noticed something curious. There were new, fresh leaves growing! Sure enough, small, fuzzy circular leaves were sprouting and growing more each day. So I began to pay more attention to the sweet little violet. Watering it more frequently, plucking off the dead leaves. I even thought I might get a pretty planter and give it a new home. With fresh soil, and some room to spread out, who knows how big it might get! I haven’t gotten around to doing that yet, but I have great intentions.
Then, the most amazing thing happened. I was standing at the sink, brushing my teeth, getting ready to head into my day, when I shot a quick glance at Violet (seems a fitting name, don’t you think?). Out of her middle sprang 3 shoots high above the nestled, velvety leaves. Bending down for a closer look, my jaw dropped to realize that those shoots were flower buds! OMGosh! My little Violet was blooming! It may seem silly, but I can’t tell you what joy that brought to my heart.
Three tiny pink flowers, smiling up at me as if to say, “I did it! I did what I was made to do…produce beauty that brings joy.”
In that moment, I heard my Father’s voice lovingly speak to me through this little plant. I too, was created with a purpose not unlike Violet’s. I was made to produce beauty in the dark and ugly places where joy is desperately needed, to spread the fragrance of Christ wherever I go, and to keep on growing even through the dry spells when I am parched for some of His living water.
And if I am faithful to “keep on keeping on,” I am sure to bloom!
How about you? Need a Big Gulp of living water? You won’t find it at Seven-Eleven. However, there is a never-ending supply from the Master Gardener. You see, He’s totally committed to seeing you bloom and bring beauty to those who need a touch of His joy in their lives. So, keep growing, keep blooming, because that’s what you were created to do!