Friday, June 25, 2010

Life's Renewal

1 Corinthians 15:35-57

Last year, my grandson, Kieran Reed, gave me a small clay pot filled with dirt.  Inside it, he said, was a “mystery” seed that he had planted.  I posted the story “here” of how it struggled until I replanted it in a larger pot, and then watched it grow into beautiful yellow gladioli.

In the fall before the harsh frost brought an end to warm and sunny days, I carefully followed the directions I found on the internet and prepared the new bulb that had grown for winter storage.   Attached to the considerably larger new bulb was the original one.  As I looked at it, I was amazed that a 4-foot tall plant could grow from such a small seed.   Because my knowledge of gladioli was limited, I was not sure if the original bulb would continue to live.  However, as the larger bulb dried in preparation, the original bulb shrank and withered, eventually breaking away.  From a tiny one-inch bulb had grown tall and slender stalks arrayed with glorious flowers.  But all of the life that the first small seed contained had been passed onto another bulb that was at least two inches in diameter.  Life had been faithfully preserved, but its appearance had dramatically changed.

After the required drying time was completed, I carefully placed the bulb in a plastic bag and tucked it away in a cupboard.  Hoping I had done all that was necessary to sustain it over the winter, I would plant the seed again the following summer.

Winter and Spring were long and harsh and I looked forward to the warmth of summer.  When it finally appeared it was safe to do so, I began filling hanging baskets and pots with perennial flowers.  They were a cheerful sight and as Summer struggled to begin, I kept a close eye on the thermometer so they would not get nipped by the night frost.  A few days afterward, I remembered the bulb that waited in my cupboard.  Going to the internet one more time for instructions on how deep to plant it, the bulb was lovingly placed in its earthy nest.  There were a couple of cold nights that caused me to worry over it because they are very sensitive to frost, but I placed it in the sun each day and waited for the light to call it from its sleep.

A few days ago, I rose to brilliant sunshine.  Stepping outside my door, I moved my flower baskets and pots from the shade where they hang and sit and into the sun.  This practice is my feeble attempt to give them a much-needed boost in our short growing season.  Shade from the roof and the pine trees on the lot fail to provide the flowers with suitable sunshine, and the cool nights stunt their growth.  As I reached down to pick up the pot in which I had planted the bulb, my blurry unbespectacled eyesight caught a glimpse of pale green poking up about ¼-inch from its center.  Ever so gently, I reached down and touched it and was delighted to discover that the bulb was beginning to sprout.

Life was being renewed.  From a perishable seed sown with great love by the hands of my grandchild was raised an imperishable one by the hand of God.  In its beginning weakness and its struggle to survive and grow into what it is designed by God to be, it had to first die to find new life.  Its original body was transformed into a new body filled with greater strength, clothed with more vibrant beauty, and faithfully given the promise of continued life.

I will be diligent and careful in tending the gladioli this summer.  I will watch it grow, stake its tall, slender stalks to prevent them from breaking, and delight in its budding beauty.  It will be a constant reminder of my grandson’s love for me and greater still, of God’s love, His faithful providence, and the continuance of His gift of life.  And when it is time to store it away for another winter sleep, I will sing praises to my God that “Death has been swallowed up in victory” as I wait for its life to begin anew.

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