A peony shoot emerging from rock covered ground in my yard
It’s that time of year when new growth is emerging out of the ground all over my yard.
I remember when I first moved into this house with its heavily landscaped yard. The first spring consisted of carefully watching one emergence after another wondering what each one might grow into. Was it a flower? A weed? A seedling from one of the trees?
Each one was a mystery until it unfolded enough for me to identify it.
Of all the mysterious things emerging from the ground that year, the one that seemed most strange and unfamiliar was a large patch of reddish sprouts thrusting up through the soil like gnarled fists of alien hands with more fingers than I could count.
These strange fisted hands clustered around my mailbox and seemed to grow larger and thicker by the day. Slowly the “fingers” began to open, peeling open the fists for more and more fingers to emerge. Each finger a bit greener than the one before.
It seemed clear that they must have been planted there on purpose—despite the slightly creepy, alien look of them—given their placement and arrangement. But I watched them doubtfully for weeks wondering what on earth they might become.
I wasn’t at all sure that something so foreign and odd-looking would be anything I could possibly want in my yard, and they were growing so quickly that I was afraid that they might be hard to remove if I decided I didn’t want them after all.
But I was willing to give them time and space to show themselves first, so I continued to nurture them and watch and wait for the mystery to unfold.
In the coming weeks, they grew quite large (turning more and more green along the way) until enormous buds appeared on the stalks that the fisted fingers had grown into. These buds opened into the most glorious peony blossoms that were as large and full as overflowing salad plates.
These days, I treasure these peonies with their faithful re-emergence each year and the awe-inspiring size of their beautiful blossoms, but the early emerging sprouts still look strange and alien to me every year. I never would have guessed what beauty hid inside those creepy fists emerging from the ground.
When life has battered our world to pieces, there always comes a time when new life begins to emerge out of the rubble and barren ground of the ruins of the life we once knew.
In those seasons, the new life emerging has (for me, at least) often struck me as being as strange and alien as these peony sprouts once appeared. I can’t imagine how this mysterious new thing can possibly turn into anything I would want to nurture or grow.
It’s nothing like what I knew or expected. Instead, it’s mysterious, unfamiliar, and uncomfortable. And usually rather scary.
In those moments, it’s tempting to want to treat it like a weed and clear it away, hoping that something more comfortable and familiar—more like the world we have lost—will take its place.
And yet, by moving too quickly to scrub out the appearance of things that are unfamiliar and initially discomforting, we may also be missing out on glorious plate-sized blossoms that will fill our rebuilt world with color and life.
What is trying to emerge in your life from those places that have been broken down to barren ground and rubble?
Can you patiently nurture what is emerging long enough to allow the mystery of its being to unfold and blossom into something new?
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