Most likely a bird dropped the seed. It could have been the wind, but there would have been more of them here and there and this little flower stands alone.
All I know is, I didn’t plant it.
The rest of the garden is bleeding golden at the end of her leaves because it is the middle of September. A few black-eyed Susans and the last of the pink garden phlox are all that’s petal-ing right now.
The garden is dry.
Despite me yanking the garden hose around, the soil, when I poke my finger into it, remains dusty up to my second knuckle.
Time away to water my own soul had left the little flower beds neglected, so upon returning I took a look around to see what needed tending and there it was, a lone stalk, its leaves a bit frayed by something biting on them, its pink petals beginning to open up to the world.
I bent low. Whispered.
“Well, look at you, you little piece of pretty. How is it that you are coming into bloom at the end of things?”
Sometimes plants will give off a second flush, like the daylillies in the front yard. Many Autumns I have walked past the bleached stalks and wilted foliage thinking it’s about time to uproot the dead and there they will be, a few pink and yellow blossoms giving it a go one more time.
For some of us ground-diggers and soil-tillers there are the gourds and pumpkins and the endless zucchini that push their life expectancy into late October.
This is what every farmer hopes for, what every soul longs for.
A planted garden, a well-lived life, that bears fruit for a long, long time.
There are the surprises.
When you spy something growing and you get low, your face screwed up in that look of perlexity you get because you’re pretty sure you didn’t plant it. You would never stick just a lone seed in the ground. It wouldn’t be prudent. Yet, there it is. One tiny glorious thing right there in front of you and all you can do is smile and be thankful.
This is what wonder does.
First you are surprised.
Sometimes you are in awe.
Then, you are simply, profoundly thankful.
Everyday I peek around the fence and examine the lone stalk. It flourishes despite the dry heat and when it does rain, the pummeling.
I look at the little flower, the result of spilling, and think this is how it is with us humans.
We do this. Every single day.
Unknowingly we are like a bird or the wind casting seed. Good or bad.
Everyday. Every place.
Seeds are spilled when we wait in line at the box store and the person in front of us doesn’t have the right card or enough cash to pay. Seeds are brushed onto those that interrupt us, cut us off, rebuke us, revile us. Seeds are embedded in an unexpected embrace, in the whisper of forgiveness.
Seeds fall from our lips and our bodies whether we take the time or not to actually engage with someone else.
We are always spilling something because we are always carrying something.
“The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how.
We do not know who stands before us.
We do not know what will become of our own children or the ones in the classroom, the ones on the street.
We do not know the decades of impact and influence spilled by the elderly man struggling to work the ATM.
We do not know why that woman is so overweight, or why that teenager won’t make eye contact from their hoodie.
We may not know, but knowing or not…we still sow.
This is how it is with us humans when….
We sow seeds of grace sitting across the table of a screwed up teenaged girl trying to make sense of her abandoned life.
We sow seeds of “you are not forsaken” when we stop what we’re doing every Friday afternoon to get that girl from college so she can spend the weekend hearing God’s love song for her.
We sow seeds of authenticity when we tell the girl that we were screw-ups once, too. Then we pull out our guitar and sing songs that tell the girl God loves screw-ups very much.
We sow seeds of truth when we tell the girl that she has to forgive, that she has to let go. Then we pray for her right then and there and let her wail and blow snot in our kitchen because we know she’s being healed on the inside.
We sow seeds of friendship despite the 30 year age difference between us when we invite the girl to sit at our table and pour endless cups of coffee into her while she tells us her story and we do our best to tell her Jesus’ story.
We drop the seed of generosity when we give the girl a place to stay and work to help her prepare for her upcoming wedding.
We scatter the seeds of “you are part of a family” when we bring the girl and her whole family into our homes, into our beds, over and over and over again. We throw the girl a bridal shower. We let her sleep in a pretty room the night before she is to be married.
We sow seeds when we don’t know the girl is watching us love our children, love our husbands, love our God.
This is when the wonder happens. Most of the time we don’t even know we’re doing it. We’re just living our lives and giving away everything we have because we have so bought into copying Jesus and one day when we’re not looking, a flower appears.
One day the girl grows up.
Like the flower she isn’t perfect. If someone were to bend low and look closely, they would see quite clearly that she’s got some frayed edges, some bite marks. If one were to scrutinize, they would see that she suffers still. Adversity can be a killer, but in this girl, it has served as a potter’s tool, shaping and forming her into exactly who she was meant to be. A seed sower. A grace spiller. A Jesus copy-er.
Like the flower in the back yard, she is a late-bloomer.
She is okay with this.
Autumn, it turns out, is her favorite time of year.
Thankful for these grace seed spillers and sowers. Because of you the girl still blooms.
Ray and Connie Blais
Jack and Lois Casey
Allen and Donna Dykstra
George and Janet Visbeek
Norm and Donna Picard
Pete and Judy Schotanus
Jack and Gert Moorey
Bill and Trina VanDyke
Leo and Mary Wiersma
Andy and Marge Lund
Phil and Joanne Jacquart
Bob and Paula Menard
…and Pauline Hayward, my mother.