In honor of spring and all the new life I see pushing through the earth and by request…I am pulling out a piece from the early archives (September 2006) of this blog…hope you enjoy it again or for the first time…
Chocolate…Flowers….sounds like standard Valentine’s Day fare. But what would you say if I told you that there is actually a flower that emits the scent of chocolate? I think you might agree that this a match made in heaven and completely calorie free!
Two years ago, I went to a new nursery in my area. I wanted something different to put in my perennial garden. After endless circling and asking a lot of questions, I came home with three plants: a passion flower, nicotiana and a chocolate cosmos.
The passion flower was designed to provide me with a plant that would climb around the brick archway of our house and display an exotic looking flower. To say that it grew was an understatement. I didn’t realize that it was evergreen and it GREW until it was a jungle on the side of the porch. The first year it produced just one bloom and the year after it was covered with Star Trekky looking flowers.
The nicotiana although classified as an annual provided me with a fragrant scent as one entered our home. It was a fast grower and was instant gratification personified. I hadn’t expected to see it the next year, but there it was again, blooming profusely and seeming quite at home.
The chocolate cosmos, I was told was a very tender perennial. I was instructed to plant it close to the house, protect it from the wind and to dig it up before the winter, replant it in a pot, then return it to its place in the garden once the ground warmed enough in the spring. I planted the chocolate cosmos and it became an instant conversation piece for me and the kids. People marveled at this velvety brown flower with the strong Hershey’s scent. I would like to say that it cured my love affair with Turtles and Milk Duds but it did not…but it still made me smile whenever I would see it buds peeking out of its surroundings.
Cut to this year, the passion flower was flourishing alright but it was popping up everywhere…can you say invasive! It needed a machete instead of pruning shears and it’s tendrils grabbed at every nearby stem in its path as if looking for dominance. During the spring it was transplanted to an area with a sturdier trellis to support its Tarzan like swinging. It is very happy although we have yet to see a flower…I am confident that next summer it will put the hurt feelings aside and bloom where it is now planted.
The nicotiana, the supposed annual, has just kept coming back as it drops seed after seed and populates the soil. It is quite the carefree flower that even does its own deadheading and then at night, the breeze reminds you of why you are pleased it is a permanent resident with its sweet lingering aroma.
Last summer, I scolded myself because I forgot the instructions of the wise gardener. I didn’t dig up the chocolate cosmos. I will admit that I can be a bit of a lazy gardener. By summer’s end, I am a bit weary of the constant watering, fertilizing, weeding, pruning and dead heading. The girls and I looked and looked and could not find any sign of the chocolate cosmos. We just shook our heads and let out a collective heavy sigh.
Last week, while pushing back some very heavy laden and bushy four ‘o clocks, I noticed a plant hidden beneath the foliage I was trying to support. Then I saw a couple of tall stems and buds…and what did I see but my chocolate cosmos had returned. I just peeked outside and the first unfolded flower has arrived…standing proud and confident.
God has given all of us many gifts. Some gifts are so obvious and natural that they just explode from within us. The passion flower did what it was created to do…grow vigorously and invade. Let your gifts flourish and grow…allow them to invade the lives of others and bless them. But remember that we all have more than one gift and sometimes it is important to use that dominant gift in a new way, perhaps in a new surrounding or to let some of the less used gifts have a chance to be stretched.
Some people are like the nicotiana. They are easy going wherever they are positioned. They take in the necessary nutrients and just bloom. They leave a pleasant trail of fragrance behind them and they also leave evidence of their presence…seeds. Be an encourager, a comforter, smile at strangers, share laughter…leave a residue behind…changing your world can be as simple as embracing who God has created you to be and sharing the real you with others.
Just where did that Chocolate cosmos go last year? Maybe it was hiding? Maybe it needed more time? Maybe the winds did get too harsh during the cold season. Perhaps it just needed deeper roots. It could have been easily overshadowed by more showy plants.
Perhaps today you feel like you are walking into a strong headwind. Possibly your best hasn’t been perceived as good enough? Or even the risks you are taking seem foreign and new. Maybe you look to the left or the right and think someone else could do it better. Did you forget to look up and then look in the mirror?
Rest assured that whatever you have to offer the world and to God will produce fruit. It may be a swift evident growth. It could be a slow steady climb or it could be something that appears dormant only to finally be revealed as a thing of beauty…a work of perfection.
Live fully…take risks…dust off your gifts and sprinkle, scatter and sow them over the world…create a new landscape by being who God designed you to be.
“Every good gift and every perfect (free, large, full) gift is from above: it comes down from the Father of all (that gives) light, in (the shining of) Whom there can be no variation (rising or setting) or shadow cast by His turning (as in an eclipse.)”
James 1:17 (Amplified)
“Some seed fell into good soil, and grew up and yielded a crop a hundred times (as great). ”
Luke 8: 8 (Amplified)
“But as for that (seed) in the good soil, these are the people who, hearing the Word, hold it fast in a just (noble, virtuous) and worthy heart, and steadily bring forth fruit with patience.”
Luke 8: 15 (Amplified)