First, the crocuses popped up, then daffodils, and as the crocuses were fading the tulips were blooming… every day is a new surprise! Just this week a neighbour laughed when I walked outside and exclaimed (apparently loudly) “I’ve got irises!!”
That same neighbour has offered to help me identify exactly what it is that’s growing, too: what I thought to be a particularly cute little flower is actually a creeping weed, and without being removed that weed would eventually choke out the rest of the yard. Surprise!
I’m not sure what else might be blooming in the garden. I’ve no idea if there’s something else just waiting to pop up one day and surprise me. Whether there is or not, my surprise garden has brought me much joy already, in a sustained and ever-changing way: if all the flowers had bloomed at the same time, it would have been overwhelming, and their unique beauty would likely have been overlooked or underappreciated.
I’ve been pondering that my surprise garden is a good analogy for spiritual gifts.
The gifts are there, just waiting for the right time to come forth. When they come to the surface, they may not be what we are expecting. Some will take longer to surface than others, some will take longer to grow than others, some will stay blooming in our lives for longer than others.
But they are all there. And they are beautiful, and they are unique, and they are brought forth in our lives at a certain time for us to use. Our gifts may not be what our neighbours have, but they are ours: to discern, to appreciate, to tend, and to use. Sometimes we benefit from someone else helping us to identify what they are, and discern how to use them; sometimes we need to realise that what we think is a gift has the potential to take over our lives in a negative way, like those creeping weeds. And, sometimes we need to recognise that a gift has been wonderful but was not meant to last forever, and so to let it go gently as we focus on the other gifts blooming in our lives.
Most of all, in this garden analogy, I think we need to recognise that at the heart of it all, there is life. Abundant life, surprising life, joy-filled life: in both the garden and in our gifts from God.
May we all be delighted by the surprises that bloom in our lives!