I have always wanted a bulb vase. A simple thing, I know. Nothing to write home about or to excite the masses but I wanted one. Why I never bought one is beyond me; they are inexpensive, readily available but not high on my list of priorities. Last week my daughter in law brought me a gift-a growing paperwhite bulb in, you guessed it, a real bulb vase. I was delighted-maybe even a little more than delighted. I was forseeing all the bulbs I would grow in that little vase for the coming seasons for years on end. You see, that’s what I tend to do. I see into something all the future potential and become filled with expectations of what will be. Or, rather, what I think will (translate should) be.
This beautiful paperwhite graced our Thanksgiving table with its pregnant growths showing the promise of its coming beauty. We counted the bud heads and speculated on when in would bloom and how long it would last. A lot of thought was invested in something so unaware of our attentions. As the day grew on and the house heated up with cooking, warm bodies and a fire in the fireplace we noticed the little plant beginning to wilt. Again we speculated that it was too warm and decided to move it into a cooler spot. I had the perfect one in mind.
Our bathroom has corner windows that stay cool but capture every ounce of sunlight throughout the day all the way to sunset. I’ve often thought that space would have been better served as a room to be regularly lived in but a bathroom it is. I carefully placed the little vase with its precious cargo on the corner of the tub, wished it a good day (yes, I talk to plants, to trees, to cats, almost every living thing except people-they scare me a little 😉 ) and went back to the party.
Move forward a few days and I see that the very top bud has begun to emerge. I am so excited I send my daughter-in-law a pic with a happy face and exclamation points. Two hours later I sent her a text with multiple angry faces that have steam coming out of the ears because our precocious Bo, a white tom cat with an attitude problem, has batted the newly born flower-and the long awaited vase-into the tub, shattering the vase and a corner of my day. I scolded the cat, picked up the bulb and carefully carried it with its newly exposed roots into the kitchen and grabbed the first thing I could find that might serve as a triage vase.
Assessing the damage (one crushed flower but no broken parts-whew) and nestling the bulb into its new home (a vintage mason jar) I glower at Bo, who shrugs and continues to lick himself. I get on with my chores and the frustration of the broken vase and hurt flower fade. I do stop to readjust the bulb when I notice it slipping off to the side a bit, but other than that I don’t really give it another thought.
This morning multiple little white flowers greet me when I head into the kitchen to begin the day. I also notice that something has changed about the little plant. The greens are no longer resting against the window sill for support. Yes, the bulb is a little awkwardly askance in the mason jar but it has managed to counter balance itself to create a graceful and perfectly balanced curve with the plant supporting itself and its new emerging blooms. Talk about resilience.
This bulbs little world was, quite literally, turned upside down but it adapted. OK, so fine-it doesn’t have a perfect little bulb vase for a home, but the humble mason jar seems to suit it just fine. In fact, the plant seems stronger because it has to bend and balance to support the weight of the coming blossoms on those long, tender (or what appear to be tender) shoots. In the short couple of hours following breakfast three more bud heads began to open and I feel if I could just stand still long enough I would be able to watch them open, one by one.
I realize, now, that I was too caught up in the idea of the bulb vase. I thought I couldn’t force bulbs for the holiday without just the right vessel. I was seeking the perfection of an idea while overlooking the reality, and simplicity, required to create the same result. The beauty that I thought could only to be displayed in contrived conditions was more deeply revealed in the simplest vessel.
I am this way in my life too. I think I need to have just the right situation or convergence of events to create the proper environment for (fill in the blank) for it to be ‘right’. I wait. I judge my lack to be the reason for not acting. The ‘I’m not…’ is given precedence over the ‘He Is’ and an opportunity is lost because I can’t get past myself to let Him work. The paperwhite is not consumed with where it is or whether the timing is right-its only concern is doing what it was created to do. It reaches up to the light-it doesn’t look down at, nor care for, the vessel it sits in. I don’t even think it realizes what it looks like, it thinks only of the reaching and blossoming which, again, is what it was created to do. If it were so easy for me! I get caught up in finding just the right time or just the right place or just the right object to complete the needed whatever in order to be prepared. I don’t think He is all that concerned with anything other than my response to His will; doing what I was created to do.
4 But[c] God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.