Nearly two years ago my friend Sandra came to visit from Rome. Flying through Amsterdam, she picked up some of the famous Dutch tulip bulbs to plant in my garden. I am clearly not possessed of a green thumb, but I was more solicitous of those patches where the bulbs were planted than I was with the rest of the garden. Tulips are beautiful, of course, but these were particularly special because they have a connection to such a dear friend whom I don't see as often as I would like.
Last spring and summer passed and the tulips did not bloom, and I was sad to have to report to Sandra that there would be no flowers. But something happened to that little bit of earth, at least in my mind and heart. Oh, there was no sudden blooming, but I began to regard that earth not as an absence, but rather as a presence. It wasn't empty of flowers, it was filled with possibility. I would plant nothing there until Sandra returned, and then we would try again.
Some days ago now, green shoots began to spring up where we had planted those bulbs. And today, when I went out on the patio as the sun was rising, I was overjoyed to see perhaps the most beautiful tulip I had ever seen. I'm sure an expert in such things would not regard it is as so extraordinary, but the blooming of that tulip was a cause for great celebration in this house, and at Sandra's house so far away.
The moral of my story is not difficult to discern, is it? One never quite knows when goodness will bloom in our lives. We have to cultivate it, hope for it, and know that even in the most barren of patches it can spring up.
I love it when God isn't subtle.