On my first day opening the office on my own, I headed immediately for the watering can. I frantically phoned my mom, setting off the security alarm in the process. I knew I needed to dead-head the dying flowers (or lack thereof), but I had no idea how far down I was supposed to pinch them off. Once I attended to the situation with the alarm, I let her explain the science behind dead-heading. (What can I say? The office I work at is a brand new practice, and I have to be zealous about my little tasks to make myself useful.)
I've been watering consistently and dead-heading for roughly three weeks now, and my gardening exploit has been very satisfying...well, sort of satisfying. The plant on the left is absolutely BLOSSOMING with nearly two dozen beautiful red flowers and several more budding. I'm quite dazzled by its beauty, really. Every morning when I make my way out to the front stoop of our little office, I'm still surprised to see it so full of life after it seemed, well, so...dead. I would be pretty proud of my green thumb, except that the one on the right is all but dead now. No matter how much I water it, the plant looks dried out and lifeless. As I've contemplated this, I can't help but reflect on the spiritual implications of The Dead-Heading Principle:
Aren't you and I just like those silly plants?! There are so many things in our lives that are dried out and rotting; they need to be plucked right off the stem if anything lovely is ever to grow there. And it's when the Gardener comes around and takes the only life we've got away from us that we get the chance to flourish. It's painful! But in due time we see that all His pruning and uprooting really is clearing the way for who He's destined us to be. I don't mean to beat this metaphor into the ground--I know I've appealed to it once before in my post about the Shack. I'm just really startled by the imagery of God dead-heading me just like I do those geraniums every day.
And all of this talk about plants reminded me of one of my favorite passages in Elisabeth Elliot's book Passion and Purity: "God's ultimate plan was as far beyond our imaginings as the oak tree is from the acorn's imaginings. The acorn does what it was made to do without pestering its maker with questions about when and how and why. We who have been given an intelligence and a will and a whole range of wants that can be set against the divine Pattern for Good are asked to believe Him. We're given the chance to trust Him when He says to us, 'If any man will let himself be lost for my sake, he will find his true self.' (Matthew 16:25 NEB)"
Maybe the one on the right, that dead, crispy one, will see some life yet this fall.
--2 Corinthians 5:17