It's hard to know where to begin this story.
I think I'll begin with my grandmother's irises. Grandmother had in her backyard, between the swingset and the dog pen, a large bed of irises and orange daylilies. Probably some other flowers, too, but these are what I remember most. I don't know when she started that bed, but it's in my earliest memories of her yard.
Now I have some of her yellow irises in the little bed on the south side of our house. The first time they bloomed, it was like having a little bit of Grandmother there in the yard. Readers of my blog know that Grandmother has had a profound impact on my life. I was thinking about that a few days ago, when asked to list the people who have affected my spiritual growth the most. I don't recall many in-depth spiritual conversations with Grandmother. We didn't have that kind of relationship. But in big and small ways her life taught me an awful lot and continues to shape me.
Fast forward to circa four years ago:
I really got into planting things in that flower bed that year. A lot of it (seeds) washed away in a huge rain almost right after all my work. One thing I planted was a peony, and the reason I planted it was that Grandmother had one in her yard. I also planted hollyhocks, and one of them survived the rain and has bloomed each summer. The irises took a year to settle in, and have bloomed the past three years; this year they bloomed profusely. The peony never bloomed. I'm pretty sure it just doesn't get enough sun, but I don't have a sunnier spot to move it to, so I've just left it there, uncertain what to do with it.
Fast forward to yesterday:
I was walking in the park and talking with a friend. Among other things, we were talking about a situation in the life of someone we care deeply about who is going through great struggles. We are concerned about this person, and both of us were wondering what we could possibly do to help them, and whether anything we did could make any difference.
We explored possibilities, came up with some ideas, but then had to acknowledge that the results were out of our hands. We could only hope that we might make a difference, and we realized that it might take years before we would know.
By that time, I had finished my park walk and was returning home. As I did, I saw the yellow irises on the side of the house, and I saw some spot of bright pink among them. Wondering what it could be, I imagined a balloon or some kind of child's toy had blown around and got caught among the leaves.
I went closer and found that the peony I had essentially given up on was putting out its first bloom ever! Four years after being planted in an area that doesn't provide it sufficient light. By just keeping it alive and not pulling it up, I got to be a part of bringing it to this beautiful, unexpected bloom.
There it was, pink among the yellow, hope for the future among the treasures from the past.
It was like a little messenger saying, "Do what you can. Trust that it will matter. Don't give up. Be patient. Here I am, living proof that your efforts bear fruit, even when you saw no evidence of it for years. Plant seeds, hope, and trust."