Desert cacti
Divorce, Grief, Seasons of Life, Transitions, Travel, TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS, Widowhood

BLOOMING IN THE DESERT

BLOOMING IN THE DESERT  

I have travelled to many places all over the globe, and in each of those places I have found beauty.  I see beauty  mainly in nature in the amazing variety of indigenous flora. I have seen beautiful lace plants in Finland at dawn when the early morning sun turned every drop of dew into a diamond. I have seen acres of lupines alongside the roads.  During my stay in England, I never ceased to wonder at the amazing variety of bulbs that appeared in spring. I went to the Keukenhof Gardens in the Netherlands to see the fields of tulips (my favorite flower, my late husband always gave me the first tulip of the season!) Australia has its variety of flowers that in many ways are similar to those I grew up with in Rhodesia, the beautiful purple jacaranda trees lining the avenues throwing down their purple carpet.  Flamboyant and tulip trees with their red carpets of fallen petals beneath them.  In South Africa in the Western Cape, the fynbos has a special kind of flora indigenous to that region, and Namaqualand daisies that only flower once a year after rain has fallen in the desert.

What is the difference between thriving and surviving? Indigenous plants flourish and thrive because they are in their home environment and have adapted to the conditions, so they grow strong and healthy. Desert plants do not thrive in wet conditions and visa-versa. After I had been divorced, I felt uprooted, I left my country of birth, I was transplanted into a new environment when I moved to Johannesburg and Cape Town.  In these right conditions I started to thrive, I found new friends who uplifted me, a church that supported me in my journey into wholeness and work that I loved. Because I thrived and grew in my new environment it helped my children to as well.  There were difficult times as well, but we lived through the storms, because we were in the right environment.  After my husband died, I transferred to the UK to start my life again.  This time around was a lot harder as the environment was more difficult to adapt to.  The weather for a start!  Eventually I established myself in my new environment, but I am not sure whether I was merely surviving, I would not classify my existence as joyfully thriving though! After a time of rest and renewal since retiring and moving to the USA I found I was thriving again.  I had found my right environment, a church that practices a creative ministry where I can use my gifts, family around me and friends young and old whose company I enjoy.

Sometimes we may just be in an environment that is not conducive to thriving after we have been divorced or lost a loved one.  Our inspiration and will to live is battered by these storms.  Do you wait out the storm and bloom in the desert like the Namaqualand daisies? or do you transplant to a better environment where you can thrive?  Those are questions you will need to answer for yourself. The prophet Isaiah has some words to encourage us “Even the wilderness and desert will rejoice in those days; the desert will blossom with flowers”. And again “Yes, there will be an abundance of flowers and singing and joy! The deserts will become as green as the Lebanon mountains, as lovely as Mount Carmel’s pastures and Sharon’s meadows; for the Lord will display his glory there, the excellency of our God.”  Ask God where He wants you to bloom, be it the desert, mountains or meadows. Wherever it is He will display His glory through you.

Copyright Deryn van der Tang 2019

Divorce, Grief, Retirement, Seasons of Life, Transitions, TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS, Widowhood

YOU WILL NOT BE BURNED

2019-03-02 09.44.52For the past three weeks I have spoken about wind, how it disperses seed to grow, lifts us above our circumstances and give us energy to move forward.  Today I want to focus on fire which is also a necessary element to growth.  

There is a beautiful flower in Cape Town, in fact the national flower of South Africa, the Protea. This plant amongst other ‘fynbos’ plants requires fire before the seeds can germinate.  Fynbos needs to burn at least every decade to keep regenerating the species and the local ecosystem. Dormant seeds which may have been buried under the soil for a few years are triggered by the heat of the fire to stimulate growth. The fire burns out all the old undergrowth and seeds that have been carried away or buried by rodents, birds, ants and insects lie waiting and when the rain comes continue with the growth process. Depending on the heat of the fire, some may only be triggered to germinate after waiting fifty years! Fire can occur naturally with a lightning strike, accidentally with sun rays through a broken glass shard or deliberately with arson. Fires are unpredictable and so it is with the germination of different seeds after each fire and its intensity and how soon the rain falls after the fire! This is such a marvelous example of what is was like at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit arrived with wind and fire to empower the disciples after Jesus’ ascension into heaven and His continued work in the world today. They did not know what would happen next! Neither do we – growth happens in unexpected ways, in fits and starts.

Sometimes when we are going through a time of intense grief and struggle, trials and tribulations, God is using the same process that the protea requires. Perhaps there are a lot of old ideas and beliefs that hinder us and need to be burnt out.  Perhaps our ‘shell’ is so hard it takes the extreme heat of the trials to trigger growth for us.  Perhaps it is the timing – it is also unpredictable.  How often we want the predictable and understandable, our routines and comfort zones.  It may then take an extremely hot fire to move us to growth. We need to learn to let go of the predictable when we go through these life transitions and rather hold on with faith, that at the right time and conditions we will grow and flourish and maybe even bloom in the desert.

Fire in the Bible had a very special symbolism. God said, ‘When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not consume you.’ God stood with Shadrach, Mesheck and Abednego in the fiery furnace and they were not burned. So, Moses was given his commission at the burning bush; Isaiah was given his when the seraphim placed a burning coal on his lips and sent him on his mission. Fire is used to refine gold and silver to burn off the dross, it symbolizes holiness, intersession and worship and incense on the altar as our prayers ascend to God.

If we were to look at our current trials through the lens of God’s growth and refining process, it enables us to use the energy of the heat to spurt on new growth and momentum in moving forward.  We may not know what happens next, but if we allow the process to take place, will we indeed bloom like the beautiful King Protea and know that God is still working with us and preparing us for our mission in life.

 

Divorce, Grief, Seasons of Life, Transitions, Travel, Uncategorized, Widowhood

Wind Energy

On a recent trip to Pennsylvania, I travelled across the hillsides dotted with wind-turbines, their massive white bases reaching high into the sky and their silver arms slowly circling in massive arcs across the landscape.  I will not go into the pros and cons of this method of harvesting energy as I don’t want to step into a minefield.  The Dutch had used wind as a method of collecting energy for centuries, their picturesque windmill sails capturing the wind to grind their crops, this was far easier than turning the millstones by hand,

On this meditation on wind, I was struck again how God has given us nature to help us, we just need to be channels for His energy to flow.  What is wind? We can’t see it yet we can hear it, feel it and see the effects is has. It is naturally occurring air flowing through the earth’s atmosphere. Jesus mentioned this when he was talking to Nicodemous, a religious leader, telling him how hard it is to explain spiritual things, they are like wind, you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going, yet you are aware of it.

Like a windmill when you are facing difficult situations, you need the courage to face them head on, as a windmill faces into the strongest wind, the sails or blade of the windmill are set to capture the most energy. Quite often it can be anger or fear at a situation that drives the energy to move things forward.  Righteous anger in unjust situations can be a powerful force to motivate you out of lethargy into taking the necessary action to protect yourself or to make courageous choices.

The Holy Spirit was described as a rushing wind. He was sent as a Comforter and Helper, I like to think that as we make ourselves available, open our heart and arms and set our face towards God, the Holy Spirit will give us the power, the energy and the help that we need to move through our problems, giving us the insight and understanding of what we need to do or whether we need to wait.  Sometimes the arms of a windmill stand still, they are just waiting for the wind to blow again to set them in motion. Sometimes we too need to listen until we can hear the movement of the Holy Spirit moving us on again, we may have had to reset our sails to face in another direction to catch the energy.  Being in tune with the flow of energy around us and linking up with others who are also on this journey gives us more power.  Just like the wind farms all link up to the grid and provide energy that can be utilized anywhere the grid can be switched to where industries and people need it.

By linking up with a support group to go with you through your grief process and transition back into singlehood will give you the motivation, support and energy when you need it. This is true for whatever problems you may be faced with, find a group of people who you are able to connect with to get the synergy of working together and getting things done.  I invite you to join my private FaceBook Group for the Hero’s Journey through Grief, Divorce and Loss.  https://www.facebook.com/groups/324574228228420/?ref=bookmarks

Next time the wind blows, or you see the wind turbines give a thought to the positive energy we can tune into by setting our sails into the wind of God’s power through the Holy Spirit.

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Divorce, Grief, Seasons of Life, Transitions, Widowhood

Seeds Need the Wind

Have you ever decided to go out for a walk on a glorious spring morning, only to find it turns into a dismal day with a howling gale ready to sweep you of your feet?

Spring is a time a when the weather is really unsettled, and it is hard to decide what to wear or what to do when you get up each day.  When you are going through a transition, you will find that you also can feel this way.  There is overwhelm, fear and maybe also sadness and depression making it hard to get out of bed in the mornings and focus on the day’s tasks. Especially as you work through grief and loss – you will get these days.

As an artist, I look to find answers in nature that are metaphors for what is going on in our lives.  The amazing thing is that the Bible also uses these metaphors so we can get answers and when I was meditating on the spring winds that brings in the season in Ecclesiastes, the wisdom was there! “He who watches the wind waiting for all conditions to be perfect will not sow seed and he who looks at the clouds will not reap a harvest.”  What the writer was saying was there are some things that you cant be sure of, you just have to take the chance and plant your seeds anyway.  We always want to be sure of our outcomes in the decisions we make, this is not always possible, we need to make decisions when the conditions are relatively good, but not perfect, and get moving with it because the perfect conditions will probably never be there. If you don’t make that decision to plant your seeds, being afraid of every cloud that could bring rain, you wont have a crop to harvest anyway!

Another lesson I found in nature was the wind was absolutely necessary for planting of seeds. How is this?  There are certain seeds that are only dispersed by the wind, when their seed capsule opens, the seeds with wings or parachutes need the wind to take them far from the parent plant to start a new colony further away, so there will not be too much competition for the same resources. As I walked along the side walk I saw thousands of winged seeds that had just fallen to the ground waiting for the wind to blow them into a place where they could take root and flourish.  How many of those seeds would survive?  I can imagine that not many of them would have made it to a new place where they could thrive.  Yes, there will be disappointments when your decisions don’t work out, you will make mistakes, there will be times of discouragement but trusting God to take just one of your seeds to a place where it will grow and thrive you will reap that harvest.

I have had to make many of these decisions as I have moved countries when I was both divorced and widowed, I had no idea how I was going to be provided for at the time, but the conditions were as good as they were going to get, I just had to make that call and pack my bags. There were mistakes I made, there were discouragements and times of extreme loneliness as I struggled through these decisions, but each struggle made me grow my root further and further into the soil of God’s love and provision for me and strengthened my faith.

If you are going through the winds of adversity at this time, and don’t know which way to go, I would love to hear from you and walk with you through this struggle. There is a seed of good in what you are going through that needs to be planted.

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Divorce, Grief, Seasons of Life, Transitions, Widowhood

RESURRECTION

 

As we head into Easter and celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, thoughts of what resurrection really means crossed my mind which I want to share with you.  When I was a child, we used to climb up a massive granite kopjie (a hill made up of rock) called Domboshawa.  It was always a treat to head there for a picnic to climb and slide down the rocks. On this rock mass there grew a plant called Resurrection bush, a woody shrub which when you looked at it, you thought it was dead, it was lifeless, dried up and black. This bush would suddenly burst into a mass of glossy green leaves as soon as it rained.  We used to love to pick a few twigs and take them home and put in a jar of water, when we woke up in the morning, the twigs had come to life and were full of green leaves!

When we have been through a time of grief and loss, we can feel lifeless and dried up, with no future. Going through the caring process with my late husband until he passed, I had felt my life blood being drained with the stress and demands of his illness and having to provide for everything, at times I thought I would be six feet under before him.  There are times in transitions that you will feel thoroughly depleted as you have used all your energy to cope with just getting through the day. But as the journey progresses you learn new ways to cope or it is necessary to take a regular rest breaks to recover.  What you really need is that refreshing rain to bring you to life again and flourish and thrive.

What we are looking for is for our life to be restored and renewed.  The plant had conserved its energy by shriveling up until the rain when it was rehydrated and able to mperform its process of photosynthesis to make energy again. We need to take care of ourselves and conserve what energy we have until our situation passes or the initial phases of grief have subsided, and we are in the healing process.  There is a fountain where we can sit, meditating on Scripture and quietly wait for the new life and vitality to seep back into our souls. Sitting watching water flow, a fountain, river, waves washing onto the beach or any place where you can see and hear the

This is a season in our life, and we need to recognize it and know that as surely as Easter comes around every year and the trees burst into blossom every year, so this season of dryness and death will be a part of our lives in one form or another. But just as it is part of our walk though life so are the refreshing rains and fountains.  We are restored, made new, reanimated we are resurrected.

Think about what ‘The Resurrection’ means to you – are you in a dry place now? Or have you found the fountain and are being refreshed and restored? I would love you to share with me where you are on your journey through loss.

 

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Divorce, Grief, Retirement, Transitions, Travel, Widowhood

PILLARS OF FIRE AND CLOUD

On this third meditation on travel, I will talk about God’s presence on the journey. It is not always easy to discern, especially as your emotions are running high in times of grief and stress.  I took comfort in verses about God’s presence with the children of Israel through the wilderness.  “By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night.  Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.” I could identify this with a steam train whose engine was up ahead pulling the carriages behind it, smoke billowing out of the stack. In the daytime it looks like white smoky cloud and at night you can see the sparks glowing in the dark.

Many of the journeys I have taken have been by train.  In fact, I think I enjoy train travel the most, particularly steam trains. The routes are direct as the rail system is set along specific lines. I like the clickety clack of the wheels running over the tracks, and if it is a sleeper, the comfortable bunk beds and food in the dining car. It is more leisurely, and you can enjoy the scenery as you go clicking by, making a pleasant journey.

I have travelled through the desert in Botswana and the train I was travelling on in Rhodesia was stoned during political upheavals – probably most of my adventures in travel have been on trains. I have travelled on high speed trains, but steam trains are still my favorite.  I have puffed through the Welsh Valleys on a narrow-gauge steam train enjoying the magnificent scenery. In Queensland Australia, I have travelled through multiple tunnels on the Karunda railway, where I could marvel at the workmanship of the tunnels and forests.

I was travelling on the Sky Rail down the mountain at Karunda when I had a moment of terror suspended midair over the tropical forest. The Skyrail, is a cable rail with three stations down the mountain where the cable cars are suspended as they are winched down the mountain in three stages, as it is so high.  I was all by myself in the car when it suddenly jolted to a stop and there I was swinging, suspended way above the forest in the mist and wind.  I felt so alone and adrift at that point. I knew if the car fell off the rail into that forest, it would not be found for days, and not a soul in the world would know where I was.  I was out of phone touch with my family, they knew I was in Queensland but not where. This thought terrified me, to be so totally alone on the face of the globe, as I hung there dangling and swaying above the forest.  Suddenly I had the feeling of God’s presence with me, and He said, “while you are up here take the opportunity to appreciate my creation from a new angle, just look at those amazing tree ferns growing out of the top of the trees, look at the variety of trees and plants” – that calmed me immediately and I took out my sketch book and started sketching the top of the forest! After a few scary jerks, the car made its way down to the next stop and the bottom of the mountain.

This last incident truly cemented my belief that there is no place that God is not with us, and for the most part on our journey through life He is there going before us like the steam engine, we may not know what is going to be ahead of us, but He does, and the tracks we go along will lead us there eventually.  There may be scary places along the way, but His presence is with you at those moments. Sometimes we just have to trust that all will be well.

What have been your scary moments? How were you able to get through them?  I would love for you to share your story with me in the comments below.  If you are still struggling with fear of moving on, please contact me  so I can walk with you through your fear.

Grief, Transitions, Widowhood

WE HAVE SERVED OUR GENERATION

I recently went on a trip to Pennsylvania. It was midwinter and there were thick snow drifts alongside the main road.  The magic of the winter wonderland was not lost on me and I wanted to take photographs.  Passing a cemetery, I looked at the rows of graves covered in snow, with the wind blowing snow across the desolate landscape.  Immediately I thought of the finality and coldness of death. People long gone planted beneath the frozen sod, covered in a blanket of snow.  And yet this picture gave me hope as well.

In Psalm 116, the psalmist says, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is his loved ones, he does not let them lightly die.”  This has certainly been a comfort to me when beloved family and friends have died.  Paul also said in Acts 13:36 “For David, after he had served his generation according to the will of God, he died and was buried.” We all have a God given purpose to serve our generation, leaving our footprint in the hearts of our family and friends. When our time is done and our work is complete, we are called home to our eternal rest.

We certainly have questions when a loved one is called suddenly, but it is not why they are called we should question, but how can we use this suffering to be healed in our hearts and how can we help others to heal who have been through this experience?  My pastor told me Christ is unveiled in suffering when my fiancée took his own life. The suffering he went through with depression and the pain he left for his family to work through as he left this earth has enabled me to have compassion for those facing similar situations. The long journey through illness and dementia of my late husband taught me so much about having patience and the trauma caregivers have to work through, caring for their loved ones.

These experiences have certainly given me the insight and the compassion to walk with others through this rough patch on their journey of life.

Job certainly had a lot of grief to process in his life. Job 24:19 He said, “Death consumes sinners as drought and heat consume snow.” Looking at the graveyard deeply covered in snow, I could imagine the time when the sun would melt the snow and the grass would grow green and plants and trees in the graveyard would start to send out shoots. Job also said ( Job 37:6 } For he directs the snow, the showers, and storms to fall upon the earth. and cause the grain to grow and to produce seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry”.  Yes, when the coldness of death and grief has been processed those green shoots of life begin to grow as we take up life again.  This is also a time for growing in new directions and being able to produce a crop of goodness that will feed others.

This journey of grief takes time and maybe you are starting to feel the green shoot stirring in your heart and would like to pick up the pieces of your life again.  if you would like me to walk with you through this stage of your life, please get in contact with me through my web page www.crossingmybridges.com, I would love to give you a map and guide posts to help you find your way.

Divorce, Grief, Retirement, Transitions, Widowhood

YOUR JOURNEY THROUGH TRANSITIONS

cropped-scanfinaltransmap2-e1534282544842.jpgHERO’S JOURNEY MAP

From the day we are born to the day we die we are on a journey called LIFE! We will experience many things on this journey both happy and sad, some things we had a choice in and others that were done to us.  We will have learned many things, intellectually, physically and spiritually which have left an emotional footprint in our hearts.

I have been through the University of Life and have experienced the trauma of divorce and widowhood, I have had to move countries and adapt to different culture four times and now I have retired am moving into the second half of life, I also managed an old age home and learned how the final years of your life’s journey need to be planned.

With all this in mind I have designed a map to chart the pathway through these difficult transitions.  Allow me to hold your hand and guide you through your difficult places. Download the Map and Questionnaire here and feel free to reach out to me.

Your adventurous guide and mentor

Deryn

Divorce, Grief, Uncategorized, Widowhood

You are the Hero of Your Life’s Journey

Thank you for joining me!

You chart the path ahead of me, and tell me where to stop and rest. Every moment you know where where I am. Psalm 139:3 (NLV)

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“YOU ARE THE HERO OF YOUR LIFE’S JOURNEY – no one else can do it for you, others can point out the best route, they can encourage you and feed you, but you are the one who has to do the work putting one foot in front of the other to reach your destination.”

Have you ever had your life suddenly disrupted?  Life was jogging along with its routines and ups and downs when an event or news disrupts your life and it changes for ever.  You were thrown into a great ocean of emotions swirling and crashing around you, they ebbed and flowed like a giant tidal wave and you struggled to surface again.  How do you get back on track with your life again?

Or did you wake up one morning and look in the mirror and see your wrinkles and the spectre of old age looking back at you?

Hi, my name is Deryn, I was thrown into this life changing moment when at the age of 38 my husband of 17 years wanted a divorce. I had to cope as a single parent, I moved countries, changed jobs and had to start my life over.  This was the first of many re-inventions of my life, I realised that through these transitions I had built up resilience to change and could help guide others through their transitions.

I would have loved for someone to have helped me finding my way, a friend who could have guided me and encouraged me.  I did have the help of some family and friends and my faith in God which helped me back on my feet again.

I worked as a Geological Cartographer as well as an artist and I came up with the idea of a map designed as a guide to help you navigate through these transitions.  There are so many metaphors in the mining world that helped me see beyond the present circumstances, and I hope they will help others too.

You are the Hero of your own life’s journey, no one else can do it for you, others can point out the best route, they can encourage you and feed you, but you are the one who has to do the work putting one foot in front of the other to reach your destination.

So if you are willing for me to be a guide and help you navigate through your transitions, we will cross those bridges not only when we get to them, but we will plan for them in advance, as preparation is key to remaining calm and having a plan of action. This doesn’t mean you wont have the swirling emotions that go with them, but that you will be anchored. You have a map to find your way.

My secure world was shattered the day my husband asked for a divorce, and again later when the man I was going to marry committed suicide.  I never expected to be the carer for my late husband who had vascular dementia and the road that would lead me along.  I prepared well in advance for retirement, but even with all the planning and foresight, wisdom and experience it was still a difficult process that had to be navigated.

I am still on this journey called life, I still have my faith in God as that is my final destination and have that inner joy of being contentment in all circumstances and am rich in experiences which I shall be happy to share with you to encourage you along your pathway through life’s transitions.

Divorce, Grief, Seasons of Life, Transitions, Travel, Widowhood

Temporary Beauty

TEMPORARY BEAUTY

For all the beauty that we see in flowers, they are seasonal and temporal. You would be hard put to find tulips in fall! Lambing time is in Spring and so is the singing of birds and flowers blooming on hillsides and gardens. Soon the temperature changes and in the heat of summer the flowers wither and die. Lambs have grown up and are sent to market and birds look out for their food – the seasons have changed again!

Jesus said “Look at the lilies! They don’t toil and spin, and yet Solomon in all his glory was not robed as well as they are”, he was saying that beauty fades it is here today and gone tomorrow, we should not be concerned about the fleeting things of life because they are only part of a greater cycle of things that is eternal and God has provided for us in that.

Quite often after we have been through a loss, be it divorce, widowhood or other, we find ourselves struggling to make ends meet to survive. We take on extra work to pay the bills or we adapt to living with less. These are our temporal needs and in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus was teaching us not to worry about our everyday lives. Life is more than the temporal, he pointed back to nature, the birds and the wildflowers. Birds are fed by God’s hand they just have to look for food, whether it is seeds, insects or small creatures, their provision is there, they just have to find it.  That of course is the more difficult part!  We know God has promised to provide for our needs, so we need to look in the right places!  Seed eating birds will look in the fields of grain, fruit eaters will look for fruit trees, and eagles will search for small creatures. Knowing your gifting and talents, how God has wired you, will help you to look in the right places for your provision.

Wildflowers are so beautiful, and yet they last for such a short time, but without them we would certainly live in a very dull world, the joy that enters our soul when we see flowers en masse is our spiritual food and nourishment.  A reminder of God’s provision. When I was living in England, I had friends who introduced me to the Charity Shops, these were a treasure trove of cast-off clothing, jewelry and household items. As I had got rid of so many of my belongings in Cape Town before my move to the UK I was able to replace them by shopping at these places for a fraction of what the items would cost new. When I left the UK, I could again return my cast-offs back to these shops to be recycled once again. The proceeds the Charity Shops made were then given to their particular charity to help people who were not in a position to help themselves. I see this as a metaphor for what Jesus was teaching, we only use temporal things for a season or so and are provided for in that season.

We should not worry about these things because God loves us, he values us more than the birds or the flowers and said He will provide for us, we just need to have some faith in His goodness. If we seek the Kingdom of God first, we will be given everything we need, so we do not have to worry about tomorrow, only looking for our provision for this day.

I know this is really hard to take into our hearts when we are struggling and wonder when it will ever end, yet I can honestly say there has never been a day I did not have a roof over my head, food in my mouth or clothes on my back. Being grateful for the small things, seeing them as provision and thanking God for them, opens your heart and mind to receive more of His provision, and knowing it is just for a season, it is as temporary as the flowers helps keep your perspective.

Copyright Deryn van der Tang 2019

Divorce, Grief, Seasons of Life, TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS, Widowhood

FLOWERS ARE A BLESSING ON YOUR HEAD

“Blessings reaching to the utmost bounds of the everlasting hills”

I don’t know about you, but my favorite time of the year is when the flower growing season is at its height.  The diversity of plants and flowers has fascinated me since I was a child as we eagerly looked for flame lilies (our national flower) and ground orchids in the veld, around Christmas time, and we would fill a big copper bowl with our findings!  I was looking for a verse that would describe the joy I felt in flowers, and I came across this verse in Genesis “blessings of the grain and flowers, blessings reaching to the utmost bounds of the everlasting hills. These shall be the blessings upon the head of Joseph who was exiled from his brothers.”  O wow!  That really spoke to me about God’s provision of blessing in flowers when we are feel low.  Have you ever looked across the hillsides when the hills are alive with yellow and purple flowers? Absolute glory!

Joseph had been sold off into slavery by his brothers as a young boy.  He must have felt so alone, and yet here God said the flowers will be a blessing on his head!  After I had been divorced and felt rejected, feeling like a slave with the hard grind of making ends meet after living in a beautiful home with gardens.  I was living in a small upstairs apartment with no garden at the time but was able to turn this around when I could walk around the local parks filled with beautiful rose gardens and enjoy them as if they were mine. The huge benefit of this was I did not have to be responsible to watering them, pruning or feeding them. I could just enjoy them!  This is surely what God meant about the blessing of the flowers, they are just there to be enjoyed.

When I was widowed, people kindly sent me flowers. The flowers at my late husband’s funeral were a beautiful symbol of his life and the colors of his Dutch background with huge orange day lilies. Flowers have a language of their own and the type and color can be symbols for feelings.  Red roses for love, white for a wedding, white lilies for death.  Nations have their own national flower; it is like a banner that rallies you. When you experience grief through the loss of a significant person in your life, flowers help to comfort and cheer you through the dark days. Elton John rewrote the words of” Candle in the Wind” to sing at Princess Diana’s funeral, he said ‘Goodbye England’s rose”, what a comfort that was to the English people as they mourned her loss.

As an artist, I have painted or photographed many a flower and they are still one of my favorite subjects. Flowers are used as decoration in so many places, they are architectural features on buildings and play a part in rituals and ceremonies.   The lampstands and decorations for the Israelites Tabernacle and Temple had almond flowers, rosebuds and open flowers and palm tree carved into the cedar panels, these were often covered in gold leaf. Some of the most beautiful classical gardens are drawn with small green hedges or borders and different colored flower panels in the spaces.  Cities sometimes use flowers to decorate a garden crest motif at the entrance of the city.

When you are going through times of grief and tears, when you are feeling shunned and sent away.  When you are feeling alone, go and find a garden, look at the flowers, enjoy them and meditate on them, remember God gave us flowers as a blessing. There is an old hymn about Jesus walking and talking in the garden while the dew was still on the roses. Look at those flowers and see if you can meet with Jesus and talk out your grief with him.