I just bought my first home, and it was an exciting and trying time. I came upon the house when I was simply driving through neighborhoods near my job. I took the risk of parking in the driveway and walking up to peer into a window. Since the house appeared to be vacant I continued going from window to window sneaking a peak of each room. In the front of the house I had to step into some flower beds (I assumed) covered with boughs from pine or spruce trees. I was careful since I did not know what was there, but I also knew I might be doing some damage, so I tried to step lightly. I fell in love with the house almost immediately and decided to try to make an offer on the house. After a short amount of time the deal was completed and I owned the house, flower beds and all.
Now anyone that knows me knows that I have three plants in my house: one that has been growing in our family since my grandfather's death in 1959, and which is my pride and joy. A second came from someone who decided I ``needed another plant.'' The third was a Christmas poinsettia from a friend this year. That is all I know about plants. The thought of managing flower beds is overwhelming to me.
This weekend I was looking out the window at the piles of boughs and noticed colors of purple and white and yellow breaking through the greenery. Carefully I removed the boughs and underneath are some beautiful new spring flowers that brighten my new home. (Someone says they are crocuses. I will believe them.) Now I am excited about what else will come up from the earth as the days grow longer and warmer.
When I removed the boughs, however, I did so with bare hands and regretted it immediately, for my hands were pricked and bleeding from the sharp needles. I was unhappy for a moment with the former homeowner for putting that particular covering over the plants. ``Next year I'll do something better.''
Then I started thinking. It was because those branches were so healthy and covered with sharp, dense needles that the flowers thrived during the cold and dark of winter. Those very branches that hurt my fingers when I removed them protected the flowers from my less than gentle steps this winter when I first walked up to the windows. The branches provided a growing time for the flowers.
Sometimes life is like that I guess. At times I feel as if someone has thrown a lot of sticky, sharp circumstances on top of me. The weight is unbearable at times and I don't like to think about the pain. Eventually, however, someone comes along and with their hands helps remove the sharpness and the stickiness of life away from me, and the strong parts of my spirit and soul begin to thrive in the warmth of the love and kindness of the world. We all need those periods of darkness and isolation when we can hibernate and take nourishment from the elements around us. During that period, however, we are not promised that the protection and covering will be soft and easy and gentle.
What we are promised is that in the right time, all will be well. The darkness will be removed, the sharpness of a situation will be taken away, and like the seeds and bulbs that germinate in the soil of the earth, our souls and spirits, our bodies and our lives will be rejuvenated.
Rejoice in the gifts of protection however it comes. Enjoy the moments of respite. And expect the gift of new life. It is ours if we allow it to be.
(And next fall, I might be looking for some fresh pine branches. If you see me cutting some, just wave, and know that I learned another lesson.)
Kim Poole is the minister at Douglas Community United Methodist Church.
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