Today is the day that I celebrate each fall, a day that I designate as “Annual Acts of Hope Day.” I put it in purple because that is a color that just seems hopeful to me. Today is the day when I will go out and plant about 100 bulbs in and around my yard. Planting bulbs is a “small s” sacrament to me!
Honestly, bulbs are one of my greatest joys. You take this dead looking thing, you dig a hole, you plant said dead looking thing into the hole, cover it with soil, then winter comes and freezes us all to bits and pieces, and you wait for something amazing to happen. Or maybe you even forget all about it and then something amazing happens months later…
Today is also the International Day of Peace, as designated by the United Nations. In my mind, every day should be the international day of peace. *deep sigh*
Peace is not solely a matter of external acts, but of internal decisions. Peace is an intentional way of being. Now, my desire to follow Jesus and my inner dirty filthy hippie combine into wanting to make me all peace-positive all the time. That sounds great, but I know and God certainly knows, that I bring plenty of disturbance of peace all around me, within me and outside of me. Just ask anyone who lives or works with me! Peace is a very conscious and deliberate way of life. A way of life that I strive for, but that I fail at quite often. Very quite often.
So it seems to me that if I can go plant my bulbs, each one a prayer, I have some small shot at being peace today. Here’s the rub… just like the “peace” that many of us long for, we are not too patient about “being” peace, and then waiting in joyful hope for that peace. At least that is how it works for me! Which is why the bulbs are such a tremendous reminder that peace requires hope. As with all things of God, dynamism is necessary, not any simple “if this, then that” binary equation. Oh, the bulbs may appear very “if this, then that,” but I don’t think that is the case.
Yes, the bulbs remind me that I throw these dead looking things into holes, and much, much later, something happens. Is peace any different? We put our peace into our hearts, sometimes the dark holes of our hearts. In what seems an inhospitable winter, something is happening, that dynamism again, the Spirit. Then almost without warning, we are astounded.All those dead things into holes over the winter and then this? Not to mention, the many that return and multiply year after year?
And so it is with peace. Let’s plant those bulbs of peace in our hearts. With some patience and prayer, we might find ourselves surprised and delighted by the result. And like with the bulbs, our own hearts, we might put peace out, let it go, and see what blooms in God’s good time.
How to be peace in the world? Respect yourself, but don’t elevate yourself. Smile. Say hello. Don’t expect the worst. Don’t suspect people of some awful thing. Say thank you. A lot. To others and to God, especially when God serves up what appears to be a big problem.
Oh, I don’t do this so well, but as with most blog posts, I’m talking to myself, out loud at that, and you can hear me.
Bonus peace prize: This past Easter, the retired pastor at the church where I work gave me a grocery store lily. It was not in great shape and I did not take care of it very well, if I am honest. (This is not a commentary on his generosity, which is legend, but simply on the condition of the lily!) In its almost deadness, Mark thought that we should plant it. I scoffed at first, but then he planted it and it perked up, giving us another flower in the late spring. It was not well cared for this summer, yet, this was taken this morning. The surprise of peace!
I love love LOVE the idea of planting bulbs as being a sacrament! Yes! That is the perfect way to describe it. Thanks for this gorgeous post.
My brother, who passed away in 2001, carried daffodil bulbs and a bulb planter in his car in September. When he saw a bare, unloved spot of ground, he would stop his car and plant a few bulbs. He brought color and beauty to otherwise barren places – which is what we are all called to do.
Lovely post, Fran!
Paula, thank you for sharing this story – I am so moved!