Over a decade ago, I was given a precious gift from my “Grannie”. She was always sending fun little care packages. It started when I was in college, and continued even after I became a mom until the year before she passed away. The packages were always such a bright spot in my day, and the gifts were always simple reminders of the beauty that she was thinking of me, and wanted to tangibly let me know it! Macadamia nuts were one of my favorites that she would send. Oh, and holiday napkins. She sent fun things that I most likely wouldn’t buy on my own. Things that were a splurge, but would be used as well.Her care packages were always such a treat!
One March, I received a gift of Shamrocks from Grannie. She celebrated all holidays with enthusiasm, but seemed to especially enjoy St. Patrick’s Day. She had actually sent me Shamrocks before, but this time, they were of the deep purple variety. They were beautiful, just beautiful. Through the years, I have repotted these shamrocks, planted them outside, and shared them with friends and family. My grandmother passed away years ago, but the shamrocks have so flourished through the years. Just the sight of them has been an encouragement.
About six weeks ago, I went to the deck and was watering my plants. When I came to the Shamrocks, the plants looked pathetic. They were drying out. I watered them. Later that week, the pot was merely a pot of soil. The beautiful Shamrocks were gone.
Now, I know enough about plants to know that they go through periods of dormancy. Sometimes,like us, they just need a break. Bulbs need to lay dormant for awhile and rest, and take in the nutrients of the soil. They go unseen, buried deep in the soil. Even though I knew that these bulbs were most likely just in that period, part of me just really worried that somehow, these precious Shamrocks that my grandmother had given me nearly 15 years ago, would not return. Maybe this time, they just wouldn’t bounce back. I felt a sense of loss over more than the plant, for they were such a reminder of a great lady and the wonderful encouragement that her words, actions, and life gave to me.
Well, weeks went by, and there were no signs of growth. There was nothing I could do to make the process go any faster. It was just about waiting. I watered them, left them in the sun. And waited.
But…one day, a tiny shamrock broke through the soil. And then there was another, and another. And now, the plant is full and more beautiful than it has been in years! The leaves are large and deep purple. The white flowers are also larger than I ever remember them being. It is beautiful and fills the entire pot that only a few weeks ago seemed a barren pot of soil.
So here’s the thing. Waiting is tough. It can be really tough because no matter how much we know, there are always the unknowns. No matter how much we can control, there are always things that we can’t. I can water and put the plants in the sun, but I can’t control much more than that. I can fertilize the plant and ‘Google’ info and read up on all the procedures of growing plants, but bottom line, I can’t make a bulb start to sprout. The potential growth in a bulb, the ‘magic’ of something growing, that’s outside of my domain of control.
The beauty of the Shamrock story? That even when it appeared that nothing was happening, lots was going on! Beyond my scope of vision, deep in the soil, those bulbs were resting, taking in what they needed, and then slowly reaching toward the surface of the soil. If I had tried to dig them up during that time, I would have merely slowed the process. Things take time. I don’t want to hinder that process because of my doubts and insecurities. I want to wait with confidence knowing that God’s timing is perfect. I need to do what I can to control what I can, and leave the rest with God.
Some things are easier to wait for than others. Waiting in line at the store or in traffic on the highway is one thing. Waiting for a loved one’s medical prognosis, a financial reprieve, or a family member struggles to ease up are a whole different story. We come face to face with the fact that there are things we just can’t control. That’s when those disciplines of prayer and patience get real. But overall, knowing that there’s grace for the moment can make all the difference in the world. Grace not for the week, not for the day, but for this moment, right here, right now. It’s like spiritual manna…we don’t need to store up bread for the week when we’re given our daily portion. We can’t store up grace for the future…but we can tap in to God’s grace to live, thrive, and trust in this minute.
And maybe, as we focus on the “now” and live in this minute, we’ll be like those bulbs, in the dark, resting. We’ll be taking in what we need during the waiting, rejuvenated and prepared for what’s to come. And in due time, we’ll break the surface of the dark soil, and see the growth that resulted from the dormant period, (which really wasn’t so “dormant” after all!) We’ll break free from the darkness of the earth and bask in the light of seeing the results that were once unseen. God has a way of creating beautiful results from not such beautiful circumstances! It’s all about what we do with them in the process, in the waiting. And then, like my beautiful pot of Shamrocks, we might just be a display more beautiful than ever before.
P.S. A note on those shamrocks. We now rent out the house where I had once planted the shamrocks. Most of my perennials have died. But recently I went to the house because our renters had moved out. The home had not been well cared for nor the yard. Weeds had overtaken the flower beds. But when I looked closely, the only remnant of my garden was….2 tiny purple shamrocks in a sea of green weeds. They had survived there as well! Seeing these two shamrocks encouraged me so much. There were only two of them, but I’ll do what I can to see them flourishing again! Who knows, maybe there are some shamrocks just under the surface of the soil waiting to break through.
“For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.” Habakkuk 2:3