Hunched Faith

purple-flowersOn Southern April mornings, gangly purple flowers rally in sad places. Forgotten fields, curbside weed tangles and the depressed earth around our city trashcan. Perennials bloom naïvely, unaware that imperfect persistence is spelled P E S T in gardening handbooks. Our cookie cutter communities welcome by invitation only.

There are exceptions. Surprise tulips bedding between dogwoods rarely trigger the weed whacker. But these weirdly named Spiderwort dayflowers, maligned by landscape designers as "weakly upright," whose flowers close before most people get home from work, have only until the next, sunny, weekend-afternoon—to matter.

Because, well, they do hunch, a little too tall for their stems, and their blooms prove a stunted crown for 30 inch stalks struggling to stand. BHG warns potential planters, "Spiderworts bloom freely, but seldom produce the 'wow' factor of some perennials."

But these flowers are telling my story.

I hunch in my faith, weakly upright. And the fruit of my forty years underwhelms.

Thankfully, God still uses foolish things, and these near-weeds speak to me, living wisdom. Not everything bent is broken. Bowing strengthens the core. I'm reminded, again, that I am not the center of my story.

A prize rose, center stage, surely points to the Master Gardener, but Jesus did not say sinners would discover Him by marveling at showcase Christians. Rather, He said the world would see Him among us—in the sacred space between believers. In the air between blossoms, leaves entwine, stems support one another, and love and forgiveness bloom. The same stem spurned for slouching alone, sweeps with others of its kind into a lovely swell of ornamental grass, graced with surprisingly delicate flowers. And so, wildflower enthusiasts advise planting large groupings of Spiderwort for "best effect." Love covers a multitude of imperfections (1 Pet 4:8).

The Spiderwort plant doesn't just embody communal beauty; its legacy can only be birthed through the group. A "self-sterile" plant, it cannot produce the seeds of new life alone.

Neither can I. But, firmly rooted with my husband and children and church family and small group friends and ministries and clients and parent sections of kids' activities, I am rarely alone. I'm bordered on all sides by community, so why do I have barren mornings that sometimes slip into stillborn days? Life given but not reproduced?

Because we can choose aloneness in a crowd.

In a field of Spiderworts, no blossom pretends through a mouthful of "fine" that it doesn't need the others. Every bloom does its part to ensure seed production for growth next spring. Each dayflower offers itself, gliding through the legacy dance, moving to the morning and evening rhythms of the original Garden. As the sun rises, they selflessly unfurl. It takes courage to unfurl, to unveil your center, exposing your secrets to the sun and rain and bees, to allow others in, to give and receive messy life, to bless and be blessed.

Then, in the early evening, though there's daylight yet, though the bees still buzz around other flowers, the blooms begin to fold their petals up into prayer. Pulling in. Centering. Quietly trusting the Seed Maker.

If I want to bear seeds of new life in my marriage, in the hearts of my children, in my own center, then I must follow the circadian rhythms of Light and Breath. Opening my senses to the Son with my first dawn breath. Surrendering my to-do lists and unfinished conversations and late-night-great-ideas into stilled, worry-less, evening prayer. Inhaling. Exhaling. Peace.

Looking at the straggling Spiderworts in my yard, I almost envy their uncomplicated beauty, their whole-body praise. In this scrap of unlandscaped earth, they bow and bloom, and create new life. More this year than last.

Though they're still slated for the weed whacker, they have already lived long enough to deliver divine messages, and so I smile at their rainy day reprieve! I clip a few blooms to grace a bud vase on my dining room table.

Right on time, without waiting for us to finish dinner, the flowers withdraw for their evening ritual. Clearing the table, I'm drawn with them into their prayers, asking God to let me deliver His messages with such beauty.

By God's grace, I will learn to live the lessons of these persistent  flowers:

Bow Bloom Bless the next generation.

About the Author: As a wife of 21 years, a mother to two boys (who are too-quickly growing up into men of God), business owner, teacher, speaker and leader in multiple ministries, Jenny Kimber has to remind herself, DAILY, to NOTICE GOD -- in small, tangible (even silly) ways that become profound when the Holy Spirit meets her in her weakness. Jenny is convinced that seeing Sacredness in the ordinary CAN be learned. Join Jenny in creating a culture of inviting and celebrating the wonder of Sacredness in our homes, as we fashion legacies of faith at www.learningsacredness.com.