The Late Bloomers

 

Many of you know how much I prefer Spring and Summer to Fall and Winter.  Since April the earth started coming alive with color, led by the pear trees and other early bloomers in my neighborhood.  Spring had Sprung, there were many early bloomers this year.  Shortly after the early bloomers came a bunch of other plants, trees, and bushes complimenting the early bloomers in a symphony of beauty also came.  But every year my yard features two late bloomers in my yard—the crepe myrtle and the black-eyed Susan are both “late bloomers.”  It seems we almost need to get to mid-summer until everything in nature reveals itself.  For my taste there is something special about the late bloomers that often wait until the hottest part of summer to bloom.

There are other reasons why I have a special respect for “late bloomers” but that would have me waxing existentially about my own life.  If you come to know my story you will know I had my share of turmoil in childhood and in a good part of my adulthood.  Oh how I could count the ways that I consider myself a late bloomer—and at times like many of us I feel I haven’t bloomed brightly enough.  But when I combine my life journey with my theological understandings I can honestly say what I love about “Grace” is that it gives much tenderness toward the “late bloomers” on this planet.  I once heard a great sermon from my Homiletics Professor in Seminary entitled “Bloom Where You are Planted.”  He was by no means the first preacher to make a go of that phrase in a sermon but it had a profound effect upon my life.  The richness of the sermon has had a sustaining impact when I find myself in soil that challenges my peace and happiness.

The other day while taking notice of some “late blooming” flowers as I took a stroll through Long’s Park it occurred to me yet again that there are corollary themes throughout nature.  And it occurred to me that it is not only important to bloom where one is planted, but also to bloom when the time is right.  I consider myself a late bloomer in many ways.  But I have witnessed a lot of people who shine most brightly when the heat is on.  There are so many biblical examples of people who rose to the occasion and claimed the molten moment at just the right time.  I think of Daniel, David, Ruth, Moses, Rahab, Mary and Joseph, Peter and Paul.  As I study history I also think of the likes of Winston Churchill.  One could argue that during times of peace he was a rather unpopular uninspiring leader, but did he ever bloom when placed in the pressure cooker of World War 2.  While many world leaders were wilting under the heat of the Fuhrer, Churchill set about the task of doing nothing less than saving England.  Maybe we could call him one of the crepe myrtle of God’s garden in the midcentury.

I draw strength and inspiration from this theme of “late blooming” because for many of us life feels delayed and in some cases in stalemate.  And for others it certainly can feel that life has dealt us a cold hand.  Have your plans been completely frustrated?  Has love or meaning eluded your grasp?  Has clarity taken a hiatus?  Do you feel your dreams and hopes are in neutral?  It may be that if we can concentrate more on blooming where we are planted, living fully in the space we are in—that some unexpected buds of hope beauty and optimism begin to emerge.  We may be surprised by what appear to be unexpected late bloomers.  One of the nicest things about late bloomers is that sometimes they catch us by surprise—but for my money late bloomers are the most welcome and best of all.   He told me to tell you!