Yearning for a new way will not produce it. Only ending the old way can do that. –Richard Rohr
Every winter, I buy an Amaryllis bulb. I like to watch it grow over the long, dark, and cold days of January and February. With each bit it grows, I know that I’m that much closer to spring. This year, I bought my annual Amaryllis at the grocery store—but with a few other things on my mind. Our family was moving to a new home mid-winter, and had much work ahead. Starting in January, I had some personal goals that I committed to practice daily. My 2018 Amaryllis would be my visual reminder of our family ending one chapter and beginning the next. As it grew taller, bit by bit, it would be my metaphor for my own daily progress. It would remind me that even on hard days, spring—and beauty—is coming.
Needless to say, it was a busy time. Distracted by the move, packing, work, kiddos, and all of the daily things we each tend to, I left the Amaryllis in its box. The time just was never quite right. Whenever I saw it sit on a cluttered kitchen counter, I always seemed to be in the middle of something more pressing.
One day, I opened the box. The poor plant tried. One stalk, white, pale green, and sickly, had grown out of the bulb, curved by the confines of its dark box. It even tried to blossom; it sent forth a bud. But with no sunlight or water, it was impossible. The box had been useful: it got the bulb from the nursery to the store to my house. But the box meant to save its life almost killed it.
Well, I had almost killed it. I was a terrible plant parent. I attempted to redeem myself and planted the poor thing and set it in the window. I didn’t know if it was recoverable. A few days later, it became apparent. The Amaryllis stalk was lost. I cut it off. But I didn’t throw it out. Most Amaryllis flowers have two stalks. So I waited.
Nothing happened for quite some time. David thought I was being a bit silly. Then, I showed him the smallest bit of green leaf poking through the dead-looking bulb. We moved to our new home. The plant had not grown as much as I thought it would by then. But now, I had a sunny kitchen window with Southern exposure. I put it there—and it shot up—catching up for lost time.
Our April worship theme is Emergence. What possibility in you has the potential to bloom? In the church? In the world? How have we boxed ourselves in? How do we cut ourselves off from what nourishes us? How do change our circumstances so we can grow? Sometimes we have to not only get out of what confines us, but change our location entirely before we can live into the change we wish to become.
Franciscan friar and ecumenical leader Father Richard Rohr says, “Yearning for a new way will not produce it. Only ending the old way can do that.” Our boxes may safely get us from place to place, but we can’t grow into our best selves that way. We have to leave the safety of our boxes behind, even if they served the great purpose of getting us from point A to point B. Before we can emerge, we have to end the old way. Part of us might even die. But when we step out of our box, only then, can we emerge from bulb to blossom. May it be so for each of us, our church, and our world.