Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Perilous Plight of the Persistent Petunia

Look at this picture and tell me what you see.  This is in my hometown of Climax Michigan, on the side steps of SoundStage One, a recording studio.  We're not that different than lots of other small towns all across America.  We have a liquor store and a post office.  We have a restaurant/bar, cows, cornfields, a church...and a recording studio.  And we have steps like these where people pause to eat ice cream.

When I came upon this site, the first thing I noticed was how large and full these flower baskets are.  They're colorful and lovely, made up of lots of individual flowers all bunched up together, sharing their beauty to create something bigger and more substantial than they could be alone.  They are a community of blooms.  Each a little different, but working together to enhance our little corner of Kalamazoo County. And then I noticed the Persistent Petunia!!! (Cue the dramatic music!)

I love this little flower!

I can relate to this little one's plight.  How many times has he felt like he's looking up at something more complete, more meaningful than his little old self, that he just doesn't belong to.  How many times has he wished to join them, but his roots hold him back.  He has lovely blooms, too, but just a couple, and a few little leaves. He's felt completely alone.  A total outsider.  In this photo, his blooms are bold and daring. When I passed by there the next day, someone had noticed him and tried to pull him out because he doesn't follow the rules.  He doesn't grow where the others grow. That's not where he was planted. He's doing the best he can to spread love and happiness exactly where he is.  He is truly persistent.  

But what does that really mean?  I invite you to look at the definition and find yourself in it.

1:  existing for a long or longer than usual time or continuously: as
a :  retained beyond the usual period <a persistent leaf>
b :  continuing without change in function or structure<persistent gills>
c :  effective in the open for an appreciable time usually through slow volatilizing <mustard gas is persistent>
d :  degraded only slowly by the environment <persistentpesticides>
e :  remaining infective for a relatively long time in a vector after an initial period of incubation <persistent viruses>
a :  continuing or inclined to persist in a course(see persist)
b :  continuing to exist despite interference or treatment <apersistent cough> 

So, where did you find yourself in "persistence"? Are you "continuing without change in function or structure"?  Is that a good thing? Are you "degraded only slowly by the environment" or perhaps, "continuing to exist despite interference or treatment".  How can you be more like our little Petunia friend?  
Speaking of which, where do you find yourself in this photo?  
Are you the tall yellow flowers in the basket, proudly giving height to this community, leading them upward in their pursuit of beauty?  Are you trailing out and down the side of the basket, reaching down to the base of the flowerpot, spreading color and interest where there was once just a plain wooden barrel holding dirt. Are you one little pink bloom, counting on all the other blooms around you to be beautiful together?  
Or are YOU the Persistent Petunia?  

Monday, July 14, 2014

Fixing the Dirt

(Lk 8:8) "The seed that falls on good ground will yield a fruitful harvest."

This is part of that story that Jesus tells about the seeds that are scattered and some fall on the stones and get eaten by birds, and some are in shallow soil, and spring up and get scorched by the sun, etc...  

WE are the soil to which he is referring, and the Creator is the farmer.  He refers to the condition of our souls in preparation for receiving the Word and how it will grow within us and hopefully bear fruit "one hundred-fold, or sixty, or thirty..."  He clearly would like us to be the good soil, but it takes time, and preparation.  Psalm 65 spells it out so well:  

You have visited the land and watered it;
greatly have you enriched it.
God’s watercourses are filled;
you have prepared the grain.

So God has watered us and prepared the grain.  He's got the Word all ready to be sown, but as every farmer knows, you don't just go spreading out valuable seed willy-nilly, or the weeds grow up and choke out the good stuff and you are left with nothing of value, except for ground cover for opossums and raccoons, which eat and destroy good crops, dragging them all down to be nothing but waste. (Know any of those types?) The psalm continues:  

Thus have you prepared the land: drenching its furrows,
breaking up its clods,
Softening it with showers,
blessing its yield.

This is the hardest part, when YOU are the soil!  Yeah, God's gonna drench our furrows. He'll spread fertilizer, which for those of you who don't know, is actually animal feces. Yes.  That's right, some literal "bullshit" (pardon my language) is coming your way!  We'll be drenched and fertilized with some really serious crap! We'll be broken up and smashed and crushed to dust, and reduced to our smallest bits. It will not make us happy or comfortable, but it will bless our yield. It's gonna hurt.  It's gonna stink.  Showers will fall and they may be showers of tears, and we may feel like we're drowning.  But it will soften us in preparation.  Farmers fix their dirt OUT OF LOVE.  They want it to be productive, and make the soil all it can be.  Which is great, if you aren't the dirt.  But here comes the good part:  

You have crowned the year with your bounty,
and your paths overflow with a rich harvest;

While your being fixed into good ground, remember this last bit. Wait for it.  

Be blessed!