Tardy blooms reveal message of patience, promise for New Year

This column was originally published as part of my “Looking Homeward” series at Herald-Dispatch.com.

Amaryllis. That’s the name of the plant that a good friend gave our family in each November, just before each Advent season.

It was an amazing little plant that produced more beauty than imaginable from a cardboard box. Every year, our gift came in the mail, packaged with instructions as to how it should be treated. We were told to remove the foam pad from its top and place the pre-planted pot on a saucer.

Water daily, the instructions read — not too much. Water is all we had to do for our little plant to grow.

There wasn’t much to see in the beginning — just a blade tip peering through dirt in a pot. It hosted no beauty and not much promise of the season’s celebration.

Yet, it always grew and bloomed just in time for Christmas, mirroring the crescendo of excitement that season brings.

One December, however, our amaryllis did not make it for Christmas, not even close. She survived our first impulse of getting rid of her in the Christmas de-decoration process and waited until mid-February, nearly two months after her scheduled time of arrival, for her glorious debut.

In the meantime, she became a fixture of stymied growth on our breakfast room table. Miss Amaryllis, we called her, confounded our family. We hypothesized her issues — too much water, not enough sun. Or maybe she was just a dud with a damaged or defective bulb.

No other member of the amaryllis family had ever been anything but perfect in blooming on schedule, until this un-budded plant showed up and endeared herself to our family. We talked to her, about her, and finally, Miss Amaryllis came into her own and bloomed. She sported the richest, reddest blossoms, the likes of which we had never seen before on any of her forbearers from the previous 10 years.

Miss Amaryllis refreshed the meaning of the term “late bloomers” for our family, brilliantly illustrating both nature’s wonder and steadfast persistence. She was a living, blooming and beautifying testimony that all God’s creations do not bloom, mature or find fulfillment at the same appointed pace and stride.

Sometimes our schedules are not our own, we learned.

With the promise of the New Year upon us, perhaps we will be surprised by what’s within us, ready to bloom. What pre-planted treasures are in store for us? For our families? For our relationships? For the ones we love?

What do we need to do to bloom this year? Is our growth stymied, too? How would our packaged instructions read?

Like Miss Amaryllis, perhaps all we need is a little water and time — sustenance and patience — in a nurturing environment for that beauty to mature.

Thank you, Miss Amaryllis, for your magnificent witness to a new grasp of an old truth: that all creatures and creations are different, and with the right care, will blossom and bloom in their own time.

Hoping your New Year is filled with health, happiness, and the joy of unexpected blooms.