A personal story . . .
My favorite flower is the hydrangea. Specifically, the ‘Endless Summer’ variety that turn deep bluish-purple depending on the PH range of the soil. The deeper the color, the more my soul is stirred to the point of tears.
Just south of the city of Charleston, South Carolina, there is a small island called Kiawah. Just before crossing the bridge to get on the island, there was a farm and flower stand called Rosebanks. For twenty-five years, this was our first stop when our family arrived for a week’s vacation. Rosebanks was famous for something besides growing beautiful vegetables. Flowers. Specifically, hydrangeas. They had the largest grove of blue and purple hydrangeas beyond the parking lot that people had ever seen. It had taken them decades to cultivate. Every year, I would spend time walking through the grove, taking pictures, trying to capture the ‘heaven’ that stirred in my soul. Here’s one of them.
We moved to Georgia twenty-two years ago, just five hours from Charleston. What grows beautifully in North Georgia? Hydrangeas. My dream was to take a circular flower bed in front of our house that would resemble Rosebanks. Even if it was to a small extent. Every year, I’ve planted another bush and I’ve watched them grow. They gave a slow start and I held my breath, asking God to please breathe over them. One year, none of them did well and they remained lifeless twigs in the ground with a few small leaves to let me know they were still alive.
Ahh, but this year? Amazing. I went out last night with my pruners and stood in the middle of them. It felt like vacation. The blooms were so plentiful that I had no trouble amassing enough for a bouquet in no time at all. A picture is worth a thousand words.
Some people go to the beach and watch the sunrise or sunset to feed their soul. It is there they feel God’s presence. Others go to the mountains and look out from a high peak. Me? I stand and walk in a grove of blue and purple. When winter comes, I close my eyes and remember. The memory is a powerful thing.
The P.S. to the story is that Rosebanks closed. On our last trip to South Carolina, we arrived at the place the flower market would have been and it was just a sandy lot. My heart sank. Then I looked behind it, expecting to see the hydrangeas. That, too, was a sandy lot. They had all been dug up. I don’t mind telling you that I cried. So now, more than ever, I’m committed to trying to reproduce that beyond our own front door. If God continues to bless the soil, my prayers, and my limited experience growing things, I will continue to have bouquets like this in my kitchen for years to come.
Jesus is building each of us a ‘mansion’ in heaven. He said so in John 14. It will be customized to delight us, to reflect our uniqueness, the very things He celebrates in us even now. The colors, rooms, and places to engage in our hobbies, will be reflected in how He designs and decorates it. You will know you’ve reached my address when certain things are present. There will be gray tabby kittens playing in the yard, a snow leopard sleeping on the porch, and a grove of purple hydrangeas lining the sidewalks leading to the front door. Get close enough, and you’ll hear the grand piano. You’ll also smell Swedish cardamom bread and coffee. Come on in. We’ll share stories about the goodness of God and how He has faithfully led us safely home. This is not the stuff of fiction. This is deferred hope in the Promise Keeper.