My daughter and her family surprised me with 60 wonderful little gifts for my 60th birthday last month. Each one was individually wrapped, and they were so much fun to open. One of them was a tiny flower pot with soil, seeds and instructions for planting coneflowers.
I gulped. I don’t have much of a green thumb, unless it comes to tomatoes. For some reason tomatoes and I have a thing. I even accidentally grew a tomato plant from a seed that dropped into a crack in my concrete walkway. Tomatoes grow so well for me that I end up with months worth of spaghetti sauce, fresh tomato pizzas, and more, until I am certain I never want to eat another tomato again.
Well, a few days after my birthday I felt bold enough to plant and water the coneflower seeds. I faithfully watered them every day. I am still watering them a month later, despite the fact that nothing seems to be happening, except for what appears to be possibly, maybe, a little baby bump on top of the soil where hopefully a coneflower is about to be born. I’m tempted to brush away the little bump of soil to see what might be revealed underneath, but I also know that the coneflower needs to find it’s own way, and that pushing up and out of the soil is its journey, just like a baby chick needs to crack open the shell of the egg in order to strengthen itself.
Certain that I had either somehow killed the seeds, or that they were just duds, I decided to look up how long it takes for coneflowers to sprout. I discovered that coneflowers are actually the sloths of the flower kingdom. It can take 30 to 45 days for them to sprout! So, I continue to gently water the soil day after day, having faith that one day they will sprout.
It’s kind of like life. We have so many things we’d love to see happen right now, but God seems to take his sweet time answering our prayers and catering to our desires and needs. We plant seeds of hope, watering them with our hard work, love, prayers, and expectations of good things to come, and yet nothing seems to be happening. All the while, however, tiny roots are sprouting beneath the soil. We can’t see it happening, but it’s happening. A strong foundation for a beautiful bed of flowers is being built behind the scenes.
Ideas, dreams, desires take time to grow. Sometimes they take a seemingly inordinate amount of time. Like a fine wine, good things take time and patience to mature. Sure, you can try to force them to happen, and maybe you’ll succeed to a degree. But, I’d bet that the outcome would be the difference between eating a delicious vine-ripened tomato as compared to one picked green, ripening in the big rig as it is transported to the grocery store. The flavor of the one that is not given a chance to naturally mature is flat, not sweet.
I hear from people all over the world about their frustrations with this time period on earth. When will it end? We don’t really know. For some, the challenges are huge. But, what we can do (in the wise words of Mister Rogers) is think of something to do while we’re waiting. Now is the time, more than ever, to plant and water your dreams more than ever while you have the time. Meditate, pray, be patient, and trust that God hears you. Don't give up.
This time on earth shall pass. The world keeps turning. You might even want these days back again. You might feel like that tomato plant pushing up through a crack in the concrete, having to give it more effort than ever. In the end, it will be worth the harvest. Or perhaps you will adopt the patience of a coneflower, and emerge from this fertile soil with your roots planted deeply, growing strong and vibrant, looking forward to the new day that is dawning.
How does your garden grow?
I believe that the best gift that we can give to ourselves is to build a strong relationship with God and Spirit. By developing these relationships, you will come to know and love yourself and others more deeply.