Spring has finally decided to settle itself into the far reaches of Northwest Ohio. It is a much more patient wait here than it was growing up outside of St. Louis. But just like anything that requires patience, the wait is worth it! After the long months of winter, colors begin to protrude out of every nook and cranny, from garden beds to sidewalk cracks, vibrant greens with splashes of the happiest yellows and oranges and purples and reds.
Tulips are my favorite. They always have been. They seems so dignified, but also have a certain weakness about them. They bloom bright and fast, but only last so long. You turn around once and the petals lie on your dining room table, leaving you wondering what in the world happened. There’s a mystery to the tulip. She doesn’t give up her secrets.
I always thought that tulips were at their best, at their “peak” when they were in their tallest state, petals sharply at attention. This is the state right after the bud. The tulip has given up it’s tight grip and opened to stand straight and tall. This is the tulip we see in childhood pictures and books. This is the shape of the tulip you can draw with ease for pictionary, a semi-circle on a stem with two peaks. Voila!
Then, I substitute taught as an aide for the preschool class. Nothing changes your life perspective like 20 three and four year olds. Monday, we went on a walk to look for spring things.
“Oh Mrs. Goehmann, look at this! I found a beautiful rock!”
“Oh Mrs. Goehmann, look at this leaf!”
“Oh Mrs. Goehmann, did you see my new tennis shoes?!”
Joy abounded in ever sight and sound and touch. The first class took their walk at 10am-ish. The tulips were a favorite find for everyone, colorful, stately, just as I expected them. The second class took their walk around 1pm. It really was a beautiful day. There was oodles of sunshine, the temperature was perfect. The teacher led the class right by our friends, the tulips, and I was shocked to see this:
Sheer and utter gorgeousness.
And then I realized – this is how a tulip is supposed to look. This is the moment in time it was made for. Bright and fresh, yes, but more than that…wide open.
Wide open to the sun and the life giving rain water, and the day itself.
Wide open to opportunity and the vibrancy of life and whatever was coming next. Rather it be eyes that look upon it with fascination or preschool fingers that pluck it up without thinking of the consequences.
There is more to this blog than tulips, I think you are probably able to see.
Friends, we were meant to be wide open.
In 2 Corinthians 6:11, Paul shares some wisdom:
We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide open.
Now, look at Mark 1:9-10:
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.
Jesus, who He is and in His work, tears open the heavens for us. He gives us a life that can be open to risk and relationship and meaning because He is in it.
When Jesus heals in Scripture, the language is openness…
the eyes of the blind are opened
the tongues of the mute are opened
the ears of the deaf are opened
the wombs of the barren are opened
the tombs of the dead are opened
We can live as closed people, and God will not love us any less, tight as a bud, fending off risk and harm. We can live as partially opened people, and God’s grace will be the same for us. Open to stateliness, as centuries, guarding our tender centers, sharing beauty, but never quite letting all of ourselves known.
Or we can also live as open people. We can bloom and blossom and let the sun all the way in.
We can bloom and blossom and let the Son all the way in.
We can open our hearts wide to His people. We can forgive and love unabashedly. What abundance there is in that!
I marched my children out to the tulip after school. I wanted them to learn a life lesson that I had embraced far to late.
“Children- this is how the tulip is supposed to look. It can close itself up overnight from the cold and the darkness, but in the bright and glorious afternoon, do you see it? Do you see how it’s heart is meant to be open wide?”
Big smiles all around. Nothing is quite as beautiful as a flower fully bloomed with the sunlight kissing each and every petal. Life is beautiful.