May 2011

May Flowers

“April showers bring May flowers.”  So the saying goes.  It is certainly true of the yard around my house, and the yard around our church.  We’ve had a lot of rain this April, not to mention all the snow we had in January and February!  There has been a greater wildness in the weather and more destructiveness, than I can ever remember: earthquakes and tsunamis and tornadoes.  Communities have disappeared and thousands of lives lost.  And still, creation renews itself.  I read recently (in National Geographic) a poignant description of the wildflowers that now grow in the fields of Chernobyl where a previous nuclear accident occurred and radiation spilled over the countryside.  It has been over 20 years since that happened.  Healing is possible, but it takes time, as anyone who has ever experienced a loss will know.

            Yet there is new life now where once there was only death.   This is God’s work.  God spoke the world into being.  God is forever speaking the world into being and renewing it.  From out of the poisoned ground, wildflowers grow.  From out of the tomb, Lazarus walked.  From out of the power of death, Jesus arose.  This is God’s work.  God brings life out of death.  We hold that hope and assurance for our destiny beyond the grave.  We also hold it as a truth for this life.

            I look out my living room window at my front yard and I smile.  Ten weeks ago it was frozen ground covered with snow and ice.  Today, it is covered with forsythia, pachysandra, daffodils, tulips, lilies, and azaleas – a “riot of color.”  A dogwood tree stands in the midst of it all, ready to burst into bloom.  I remember wondering whether the ice would still be here at Easter.  It seemed it would never be gone.  But it is!  There are times in our lives that are like that.  Our hearts are numb with cold, time is frozen, and we are buried in winter.  I have known such times; perhaps you have too. 

            The flowers in my yard recall me to the beauty, goodness, and perseverance of life.  They make me smile and laugh; they are delicious!  It is so wonderful when spring finally comes, when May brings flowers.   I need flowers in my life.  I need color.  I need beauty.  I believe we all do.

            I heard an interview with a rabbi on the radio last week.  She was talking about the story of creation in Genesis.  She noted that at the end of each day, God said: “It is good.”  Then she pointed out that the Hebrew word translated as “good” also means “beautiful.”  I didn’t remember that from my school days (if indeed I ever knew it).  I do remember that it is true in Greek: that “kalos” can mean both “good” and “beautiful.”  That the good is beautiful and the beautiful is good – that is worthy of reflection.  Going back to Genesis then, God declares the works of creation to be not only good but beautiful.  Then to cap it off, having made humankind, God looks at it all and pronounces it “VERY good!”  Or as we can add: “VERY beautiful!”

            We are called to beauty.  Made in the image of God, declared to be “beautiful”, we are to be creators of beauty.  Do you think that way?  Do you move through your day, looking for ways to make your corner of the world a little more beautiful?  Do you plant flowers everywhere you go?  Literally and metaphorically?

            Have you ever been in a gathering where the “ice breaker” involved some odd questions like: “If you were a bird, what kind of bird would you be?”  I think it might be fun to go around the circle and ask each one: “What kind of flower are you?”  Are you a violet, a peony, a petunia, a sunflower?  Can you think of yourself as a flower set in the garden of God’s creation for beauty’s sake?  You are! 

            There is plenty of violence, in nature and in humankind – much too much ugliness.  You can make a difference: bloom where you are planted!



I too am admiring the flowers all around me here in Tarrytown but I am acutely aware of their pending doom even as I rejoice in their scented beauty.  Of course, this fleeting moment is only enhanced by its brevity.  To hold to this moment though would mean one of those Faustian deals with the devil.  I can only trust that the way it is is the way it should be according to God's will.  The words of the poet, Ben Johnson come to mind:

Droop herbs and flowers,

Fall grief in showers

Or beauties are not ours

O I could still like melting snow upon some craggy hill

Drop, drop, drop, drop

Since nature's pride is now a withered daffodil.


Trusting in the resurrection, I can believe that they will come back in time, not in mine but His, and that is enough. Jeannie Michael