It's when the darkness slips in and I make my way to the window, reach up to pull the shades on another day that's almost gone. That's when I find one stalk of the amaryllis plant bent low, leaning all the way over.
I don't know what's happened here and I don't know if there's any fixing what's been broken. But I gently lift the stem with trembling hands, hold my breath to see if the bending can be undone. And the smallest of sounds, that tiny cracking, ripping, snapping--it echos loud and I cringe, this piece of green clutched in my hand, its lifeblood pouring right out.
I can almost feel the dying.
It's just one stalk of blooms from a plant that's been faithful to show its joy colors year after year. But lately there've been too many days of upheaval and I'm clinging to every little piece of beauty, hope, Him wherever I can find them. And this one piece, it's dying right here in my hand, and me, I'm a little beside myself with the loss.
So I lay that stem on the nearest table and I rummage through cupboards to find something, anything that might stop the dying. I pull out the smallest vase I find, but it's still too big and it's still all wrong. The hearts around the edge seem garish, trite, oblivious to the broken beauty that's been laid up against them.
But I watch that stem in a vase for days and the cut bleeds red and I don't know what it all means, only this--there's life after the breaking.
The unborn buds, they still grow, even when everything that's anchored them has been torn clean away. And that circle of hearts, I see it now for what it really is--Love encircling when we've been broken straight through and the whole world's counted us out, left us to bleed. Yes, that's exactly when He comes, this Love Who Is, and He wraps His presence all around and He plunges us deep in the Water Who Lives.
And, oh, we still bleed and we still ache and we still wonder how we can open hands, heart, whole lives to any more of these days. But God, He holds us through it all, lets Love trickle up through the veins until we can't help but heal, hope again, live.
Those amaryllis blooms still growing in their pot, they loom large and loud. But it's these small, pale buds opening from nothing but water and glass--they're the ones I can't take my eyes off. Because who's mesmerized by the unbroken whole when He's here doing the impossible, sustaining what's been sheared right off, turning all the bleeding into a river of life?
And this is what He whispers through this one stalk of blooms--sometimes losing everything means gaining what matters most.
I need to hear this again and again because God's digging deep, stretching me out, and some days it feels as if I'm being sheared right off from everything that came before. And maybe I am and maybe it's hurting more than I thought it would and maybe I wonder why He asks so much of a woman who feels so small.
But I'm breathing slow and steady through the growing, birthing pains and I'm tracing my hand across that string of hearts, believing this one thing: God is Love and I am loved and this is enough to sustain a life through every last day, every last stripping away.
Because I've already written it here, those words of the Apostle Paul, that when we've got nothing at all to our names but His Love, we have everything. Maybe He's teaching me this in ways I didn't expect, ways I never wanted to learn, but it's only this that matters--His Love encircling, flooding right over, invading every corner until I can't help but heal, hope again, live.
And this I'm learning through the hard days of living--Love really is the only home we'll ever need.