When we get to this point of winter, we long for life and know that, as Jane Kenyon puts it in her poem "February: Thinking of Flowers," "A single green sprouting thing would restore me."
There truly is something about those little tulip tips pushing through the earth, about the tiny buds on the blueberries and the little leaves on the elderberry bush. These urge me to look closer as I walk around the front field and peek into the garden beds blanketed with leaves and on into the damp woods. I notice even more things sprouting, budding, burgeoning. Hope awakens.
And these hellebores herald the victory wreath as the first triumphant blooms. Often called the Lenten rose, the low-lying hellebores' gorgeous blooms bow to the ground illustrating the beauty of humility and prayer that we are called to in this season. As Vigen Guroian writes in his Inheriting Paradise: Meditations on Gardening, "The Lenten spring is God's invitation to prayer [and] fasting."
But good plants are not the only things bursting forth, for there are also a multitude of weeds. And Guroian continues, "Like the deep-rooted thistle weed, some of our worst habits withstand all but the most persistent, persevering, and strenuous exercise. A quick pull on the root ... will not do the trick, nor will an aggressive chop of the hoe. Patience is needed, and the humble willingness to drop down on one's knees and work carefully with the hand fork and trowel. The Christian gardener patiently picks sin from the soul's soil and cultivates it with care and attention to the tender new growth of faith."
And as I lift the bowed heads of the hellebores, I am reminded of the beautiful honor God bestows on each of his children as they humble themselves and wait for him to exalt them in the proper season.
"You, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head" (Psalm 3:3, ESV).
"Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up" (James 4:8-10, NIV).
"All of you, dress yourselves in humility as you relate to one another, for 'God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.' So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you" (1 Peter 5:5-7, NLT).
You are beautiful, dear sister. You are invited to come near and cast all your cares upon Him. And you are promised glory, honor, and power as well as protection as you humbly seek Him. There will be seasons of repentance and seasons of grief, but joy will come in the morning. Hope will rise from the ashes. He will lift your head.