Amaryllis (Hippeastrum)For Christmas, I received an amaryllis bulb. A whole amaryllis planting kit, really, with the bulb, a little disk of just-add-water planting medium, and an attractive ceramic pot to hold the whole works. This is about right for me, especially when it comes to flowers: not too much work, and it will bloom indoors during the winter!

I took the bulb kit home and set it in a safe place so I could plant it later. This was shortly before Christmas, which is something of a busy time in the church world, and like many other things, planting the bulb just didn’t happen. We left town after Christmas for a week and a half of vacation, and there the bulb sat in the dining room, inside its pot with the cardboard sleeve over the top.

When we came home from vacation, I noticed a leaf sticking out from between the pot and the cardboard sleeve. Maybe you saw this coming before I did, but the bulb sprouted without me! Not that I imagine myself to have anything like a green thumb, but I would have assumed the bulb would at least want some faux dirt to nest in before it would send up its greenery. Apparently, all it needed was some brief late sunlight on the side of its packaging.

The amaryllis now sits happily in its pot and is getting ready for its first flowers. It sits on the little prayer shelf in my closet, where it gathers its afternoon sun and adds a little life to the upstairs. I worship best in nature, after all, so what would my prayer space be without a hint of green? This hint of green sprouted out of season, even out of soil. One proverb of our time advises us to “bloom where you’re planted,” but this bulb tried to bloom without being planted in the first place.

While I knew life sat there in that bulb, I didn’t think it would do anything yet. It was too dark inside the container. There were no nutrients to stimulate or support a “fragile little plant” as it pushed its way up and into the world. This life wouldn’t sprout, let alone flourish, in such a dry and neglected environment.

This life did sprout, even there. Life sprouts in tougher places than that, and more often than we might notice. Many of us are accustomed to thinking of winter as a dormant season when life rests and stores up its energy, but doesn’t do much of anything interesting. We might fill the time with activities or planning, but we see the time itself as primarily about waiting for life to sprout again. Sometimes, during that time – while we’re waiting – life sprouts.

Life doesn’t wait for the most opportune time or the most comfortable circumstances. It doesn’t necessarily even wait to be planted before it tries to take root. It was there in the darkness of night that the Lord of Life came to live among us, and it is there in the shadow of the grave that the Anointed One will be raised to new life. As we begin the season of Lent this month, we might wait for life to spring forth, but we might just as well be surprised at the life that God has already created in the places where we were too reasonable to look for it.

In other news…

Leanne and I can’t express enough how grateful we are for the extremely generous gift you shared with us to help with our adoption expenses. The monetary gift will be a major help to us in the adoption process, and the cute stuffed puppy will be the Williams Addition’s official first toy. Thank you to everyone who contributed.

In Christ’s peace,

Nathan

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