I’m pretty sure I had never heard of an amaryllis, the flower the blooms in Winter, until I listened to Christy Nockel’s podcast this past Fall.
I was instantly captivated, struck by the ordinary extraordinary of being planted in a small space, growing slowly and quietly in the dark. And then, just when the night feels too long, like Spring may never come, the pure white or the deep, dark red petals burst open, almost as if they’ve woken up from a long sleep.
The idea brings tears to my eyes.
But watching it happen brought joy, laughter, and a good amount of clapping.
We planted the amaryllis bulb in November. For the first week or two, anything more than a few drops of water would completely flood the pot. The bulb had yet to settle in. But soon enough a few drops turned to more and more as the roots began reaching down, planting the bulb securely in the damp dark. It was growing, but not in a visible way.
The bulb was planted and life was happening, but there was nothing to show for it on the surface. We kept watering anyway because, well, that’s what you do for flowers.
Sometimes, maybe, we’re a bit like an amaryllis.
I’m far from being a fan of the dark. Whether we’re talking about literal, physical darkness or spiritual darkness, I’d rather just keep the lights on.
It’s quiet. It’s lonely. The unknown seems to surround and though we may be growing, there’s nothing to show for it. It’s not easy in the slightest, digging down deep, planting your roots and hanging on. There’s nothing glamorous about it. Instead, it’s rather, well… ordinary.
When leaves and petals fall and so much of the world begins to go into hibernation, the amaryllis begins its toughest work. Without fanfare or applause, it simply does what it was made to do.
Drop by drop, and then more on top of that, I watered the soil surrounding the bulb. Pouring water on the bulb itself would have caused it to crack. It’s the environment and the sustenance that give life to the bulb, until one day you wake up and glance over while you’re making breakfast, only to feel your mouth involuntarily drop open at the sight of a single green shoot that sprouted overnight.
That one shoot split into two, but it wasn’t yet time for the flowers to bloom. It grew in increments too small for my human eye to perceive, and yet every day I woke up to a plant reaching higher and higher. The roots grew downward so the plant could later rise upward.
As we waited for the blooms to burst open, another shoot sprang up. If you think nothing blooms in Winter, I’d like to show you something. If you feel like you’ve been planted at the wrong time, in the wrong place, or like all your growing is for nothing, look past how awkward I become in front of a camera and see the beauty that came from the bulb…
Maybe you’re an amaryllis. Maybe you’ll surprise the night and bring beauty when it’s needed most. Who knows, you just might shock us all but you won’t shock your Maker.
Plant what you want to grow. Plant grace, joy, compassion, generosity or faithfulness. Water and wait and watch. Let time do its work and stay close to the Source.
The amaryllis grew so tall that its height became too much of a burden to carry. It fell one day as I was making lunch, and after trying (and failing) to prop it up for another week, we finally took scissors to the bright green shoots. I don’t know what began to rise up, but a dark red liquid appeared where it had been cut. My roommate and I both wondered out loud, “Is the plant bleeding?”
And I’m not even going to lie to you, I felt like I took away what was beautiful. It was dying, yes, but it was beautiful. Breaking what had so recently bloomed felt wrong, but the thing about an amaryllis is that you have to do this, you have to trim it back after it blooms and then falls — so that it can rest. And after it rests, it will begin to grow again.
Two weeks ago, while the amaryllis bulb sat seemingly life-less on our kitchen counter, I went for a walk. It was a Monday in February and every single tree was either hanging onto brown, dead leaves or looked like a skeleton with bare branches. The sky was white and the world seemed to be sleeping.
But then I turned the corner and heard myself audibly gasp, stunned by the color of new life. In the middle of Winter, these two trees began to bloom. It felt like a reminder that even when we don’t yet see it, beauty and hope and life and promises fulfilled… it’s all coming. It’s getting ready, preparing to burst forth.
And you know what happened this past week? The amaryllis began to reach upward again. Slow, steady, still small… but it’s planted securely and will bloom again.
“God is more interested in my joyful participation than my perfect execution.”
Those words are from the Illustrated Faith Free to Flourish kit that I’ve been working through this week. I lettered them on a pretty part of the kit that I ripped out (that’s okay, right? right.) and then used different items from the kit to journal in my new Bible. (I even “splurged” and finally ordered these two pens and praises, I like them so much and they don’t even bleed through.)
And guys? It all made me really nervous. I’ve never journaled in my Bible using markers and ink pads and stamps and all the things. It intimidated me for a long time (probably because I flat out don’t know what I’m doing and also it felt like a lot of pressure to get it right). But I was genuinely surprised by how much I liked the imperfectness of the art, how encouraged I was after spending an hour thinking on just the one verse pictured above (Psalm 92:13), and relieved to discover there isn’t a right or a wrong way to Bible journal.
The point is to spend time in His Word, and I think I’m going to love this kit a heck of a lot. You know “planted” is my word for the year, so when I saw the Free to Flourish kit I knew it would be great way to learn more of what Scripture says about planting and tending and blooming (flourishing). I want to be planted in His presence, small but bearing fruit even in the middle of the storms that come.
Spring is around the corner and night will end, but until then I’ll water the amaryllis and journal in my Bible and remind myself that He wants my presence more than He wants my performance. We’ll flourish in time and to everything there is a season. This one is good, too.
P.s. If you order anything from DaySpring (I definitely suggest the new kit and the fancy pens), make sure to use the code 25FORYOU at checkout. You’ll receive 25% off your entire order + free shipping until the end of March!
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