See! The winter is past;
the rains are over and gone.
Flowers appear on the earth;
the season of singing has come . . .
Song of Songs 2:11-12
Our front porch is one of my favorite places in the world. Living in Seattle where it rains more days than not, it is the one place we can be outside without getting wet. When our house rocks with family parties, guests spill out onto the front porch for fresh air or a cigarette, someone always finding their way to the swinging “conversation” bench at the end of the porch. Fuchsias spill out of the window boxes, flowers reach through spindles of the railing, as if to join in our fun.
Today, however, is not the porch’s finest hour. Due to an overly busy spring, I forgot to tend the flower beds and water the flower boxes. Flowers died.
I’m pausing for a moment out of respect and guilt.
Stinging nettles settled in, which has never, NEVER happened on my watch before. Clover invaded. I will not even write the details of the rose garden mess in the back yard . . .
In my attempts to rehabilitate the front garden, I have spent my spare time pulling weeds and replanting. Unfortuately, this process has proven slow and messy. This was the view of the porch this morning when I returned from my walk:
It’s not pretty; I know. Kind of overwhelming. Kind of embarrassing this week when friends came for dinner. I winced as I warned them not to trip on the garden hose.
I could focus on the mess and the wince and be terribly discouraged, but that’s not the view I choose to see. Look at the bench again:
Do you see that pink fairy rose climbing through the swing? I choose to focus on that. It’s quite a miracle, actually. That rose started growing all on its own on the edge of our property, an offspring of my neighbor lady’s beautiful bush. See, her rose is way over there:
Last spring, I transplanted two tiny little rose stems from that edge of our property into my flower beds. I had no idea if they’d survive, let alone flourish. One year later, these two tiny little stems have blossomed into bushes, climbing and blooming pink fairy heaven. And all I did was dig them up and plant them in good soil.
The roses peek through the bench and climb the chimney and remind me that not everything in this life is hard. Sometimes the flowers just show up, pink and scenty, with enough fragrance to make me forget the mess.
I count these roses for the gifts they are, and am reminded of other gifts that make me giggle: tiny hot pink English daisies I planted years ago still managing to pop up every spring with their yellow bellies shining proudly, Violas reseeding and reproducing in weed-like fashion, their dark violet petals arranged to look like faces popping up throughout my garden, and the darling brown rabbit (Sam named him “Carrots) who occasionally hops onto our porch to say hello before bounding away into my messy gardens. He seems to enjoy them as much as I do.
With my coffee in hand, while the kids still sleep,I pen thanks for these gifts I didn’t earn, these reminders of a God who took the time to paint faces on a pansy, these constant promises of renewal and constancy and cotton tails.
We sit at our dining room table and open the window over the overgrown rose garden, marveling that even though I neglected them, despite the fact they grow amongst the weeds and didn’t get fertilized or trimmed, they bloom.
Even as my guilt and nag self-deprecate me with “shoulds” and comparisons to other women who actually tend their roses, His Voice sways through tree branches.
Drink them in, marvel. Hold petals, feel their silk between your fingers. Gock at a beauty that will outlive all of your failures. Know I breathe even into these just for your delight.
I whisper thank you, and choose to see this view. I see the roses.
What view will you choose to see today?