Thursday, May 7, 2015

What comes up out of the ground

When we moved yet again last summer, one of the last deeds at our old house was the carrying out of a long-established family tradition.  It was not a formal ceremony, but a physical action to reflect an invisible grace.  We were moving on again.  Another family would live in this house.  There would be a new name on the mailbox, another entity in the neighborhood, a different presence on the block.  God led us here for His divine purposes for a season. And now, it was time to move on again.

Our tradition, which was established so many moves ago, was to dig up a portion of the irises that grew in our yard. We filled a discarded box with some of the gnarly dirt-encrusted bulbs.  And we left behind a perennial garden of purple and gold blooms in the spring.  The new homeowners will not realize these flowers have a story behind them, but just enjoy the beauty left behind.

The original bulbs were not even original themselves, but were transplanted into my grandmother's yard by an unnamed aunt, when my mom was just a ten-year-old girl back in 1929.  This aunt thought that she was just sharing bulbs from her own garden.  Little did she know that she was planting a visible faithfulness that bloomed through the decades. She could not have foreseen the deep hardships just around the corner, the onset of the Great Depression that started just months later, the early debilitation and demise of my mom's father when she was just a teenager, and the devastating news of my mom's first husband who disappeared on a mission over Nazi Germany.

And each spring, the flowers continued to emerge out of the dirt and bloom with glory year after year.

As a young war widow, my mother moved to New York to perform as a violinist on early television.  When she married my father, my widowed grandmother relocated from her home in Texas to New York to take care of the pack of grandchildren who soon followed.  And when my grandmother uprooted her own life, she also dug up a portion of those irises to plant where to her must have seemed a foreign land.

Each time the family moved, my grandmother not only transplanted those iris bulbs, she created a garden, no matter the soil, no matter the rocks, no matter that she hobbled with rheumatoid arthritis for nearly fifty years. She left behind beauty wherever she went....and a patch of purple and gold irises that still bloom.

When my mom and dad moved for a final time, my husband and I filled a box with those iris bulbs.  We have both planted and transplanted the irises, carrying them with us to each of our new locations, not just as a sign of moving on, not just as a legacy left behind, but an intentional rooting wherever God leads us.

This morning, the irises bloomed, a visible manifestation of the faithfulness of God wherever we have moved. When I saw them in the early light, it was as if God was saying, "Put down your roots.  Thrive here, no matter the soil, no matter if just a season or the rest of your life. Let Me use this place, this situation, in your life and the lives of everyone around you.  You are here for a reason."

You will never know the impact of God working through you.
Plant His faithfulness here.

But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases,
His mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness.

                     Lamentations 3. 21-23

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