Amaryllis bulbs are a strange gift to give someone. It pains me to say this because they are a strong and hardy plant with an elegant and gorgeous flower. Their only problem is (in my opinion) they take a long time to mature to this beautiful state.
Last Christmas we received a box from a dear friend. Inside the box was a lovely woven hemp basket that was stuffed with some kind of botanical peat moss, which seemed to be hiding something fragile. Buried under this natural padding were three unattractive lumps. And on the top was a note that simply read Merry Christmas.
Per usual in our household, my wife quickly recognized the gift for what it was, and set the artistic basket aside underneath the window in our living room. Day after day, week after week, month after month I stared at those ugly lumps. Like moles growing on one’s balding head, I was some how disturbed by their presence. Yet I could not take my eyes off them.
Sometimes I would sit on the couch and imagine what would grow from under this dull, khaki-colored canvas. What color might they bring? Would they be fragrant or clash with our home décor? But most of the time when I would get frustrated because like a pet to care for, I have this basket to have to look after without really getting anything in return.
So yeah, Amaryllis bulbs are a strange gift; especially for a person whose time and patience is limited.
Then one day, a little spear of green broke through the peat. It reminded me of a small child inside his mother’s belly, his tiny foot kicked against the protective layer to make his presence known. Just like the expected parent my excitement shifted. No longer was I staring at this basket with contempt, but with anticipation. Yet the birth cycle was not complete. So I would have to wait. And pretend that tiny green shoot wasn’t a tongue sticking out of the ground to mock me.
Amaryllis bulbs make a strange gift because we want to tear open the paper, rip through the box, and begin playing with our gift immediately. But nature doesn’t always work that way. Neither does its Creator. Things take time to grow.
In a world that demands instantaneous gratification, we often forget how to sit in the quiet and allow the mysteries of the world to be. This gift was a great reminder for me to simply trust that something greater was at work. And no matter how hard I prod, plead, or pray I am at the mercy of something other than my own self.
What a gift it is to finally realize God is making beautiful things happen whether we know it, see it, or comprehend it. Even when we doubt, or demand immediate attention for your prayers, but hear nothing back, we have to be patient. God is at work. For you!
God tells a young prophet, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you” (Jeremiah 1:5). His story reminds us that God has a plan, but we have to patiently wait until it is revealed. As the psalmist sings, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)
I am the bulb in the knitted hemp basket. You are too. Together we have to sit still, covered in darkness and let God bath us in golden sunlight until that day we pop up and say, “Here I am!”
We are the gift!
As we stand tall, with our bloom in full display, we become a thing of real beauty; a living, growing, thriving, testimony to the divine power and mystery of our Creator.
Prayer: Holy Creator, you have made us in your image and consecrated us for your purpose. Empower us to live patiently and faithfully so that we might die peacefully and beautifully, knowing like the amaryllis we will rise and live again in the Easter Resurrection. Amen.