Flowers, shrubs and trees in the garden respond to the old-as-time cycles of nature. Sure, buds can appear earlier or later, based on warmer or cooler than average temperatures. But the seasonal shift of daylight, temperature, and moisture are a powerful force in the cycle of blooms. And the plants respond to what is, not what might be!
So the spring bulbs in my garden are responding to the moist soil that has warmed just enough, with a bit more light each day, to draw their shoots upward, seeking daylight. This response to spring signals in nature follows the necessary chilling of winter for the bulbs. Buds have appeared and small crocus blossoms have opened.
I usually see a few crocuses in my garden in February, but we had a colder than usual month and intermittent snow storms that covered the ground. On February 28, when I hadn’t seen any crocuses yet, I peeked under some leaves on my front border, where I knew there were crocus bulbs, and sure enough, under the leaves there was a small crocus starting to bloom. Rather than uncovering the flowers, which I usually do this time of year, I patted the leaves back around the flower because the early March forecast was for extreme cold and more snow. Now that snow has finally melted, with just one more small pile on the edge of my driveway.
Today, March 12, I noticed that those crocuses have stretched their shoots up above the leaf mulch and are blooming above the mess of leaves. (The leaves in my perennial garden are either brilliant mulch which I keep from the fall leaves, or are due to my inattention to completely cleaning up the fall leaves.)
I pulled some of the leaves back to let the crocuses enjoy today’s sunshine and 60 degree weather. Then I worried about the flowers. They don’t know to worry, because they only know what is, not what might be. They don’t know that the winter storm watch for tomorrow has been upgraded to a blizzard warning. They just know that today is 60 degrees and sunny, and that the soil is moist from recently melted snow. Perfect conditions for spring bulbs.
A little bit of cold and snow won’t harm my spring bulbs. They are resilient early bloomers that poke up through snow many years. However, 3-7 inches of snow (that’s quite a range, storms are hard to forecast in the Front Range of Colorado) could smash the flowers. It won’t kill the bulbs, but it might be the end of this year’s extremely brief bloom cycle! But the crocuses don’t know to worry.
I am drawn back once again to the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount:
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:25-34
OK – I’m not supposed to worry, because the flowers and birds don’t worry. Yikes! Reading this also reminded me that the little birds who have been making nests around our yard and home should be worried! And for the flowers/grasses – it isn’t being thrown into the fire they need to worry about (at least not until summer), it’s being smashed in the freezer!
Pause, reflect, take a breath, listen to Jesus. The flowers and birds don’t know to worry, because they only know what is, not what might be.
Why don’t the flowers and birds worry? Because they only know the rhythm of life and sustenance poured into their very beings by the Creator God. They know to move toward the light and warmth. They know the forces that pull them through each season. And they know that their time on earth may be brief, but it is beautiful.
So before the snow flies, I’ll take another walk around the neighborhood, celebrating the beauty of the brave crocuses and birds, who don’t know that they should be worried about tomorrow. And I’ll take a moment to pause and reflect, to remember that this same God infused my being with a soul that desires light and warmth, and that he promises to provide for my every need – what is, not what might be.