Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Lessons From The Peony – Lawrence

Two bushes of peonies—one pink and one white—blossomed with a spectacular showing in our garden this year. In England, I knew peonies by the name of Whitsun Roses, because they often flowered around the Church season of Pentecost or Whitsun, and their blooms were used on the altar.

This year, the Feast of Pentecost was earlier than usual and, living in Muskoka, our plants tend to be a couple of weeks later than they are in southern Ontario. It was no surprise therefore that our peonies bloomed way after Pentecost was over.

We started our garden about five years ago and the peonies were planted the first year. We had decided on a perennial garden for a number of reasons, not the least of which was that we would have plants as soon as the snow had gone. This has proved to be true and it has been delightful to see plants growing green as soon as they are released from their burden of winter.

The peonies have given us some anxiety over the years. When they were planted five years ago they had already bloomed—so we looked forward to the following year when we anticipated some large, showy blossoms.
When the next year came, however, there were only a few buds on them and they atrophied on their stems. The ants, which help the petals open up, had no effect on them at all. Needless to say, we were very disappointed.
Year three, the white flowered plant gave us a few blooms but, again, the pink buds atrophied. At the end of the summer, we could see that there was some problem with the stems as they came out of the earth. The gardening book recommended that they be cut right back near to the ground. This we did with great trepidation, fearing that the plants might die from such extreme cutting back.

Year four gave us two good plants—obviously they had responded to the harsh treatment—and year five, as I already said, gave us a spectacular showing.
That was not the end of it, however. This year, after the plants came out in large, heavy blossoms, which we enjoyed for a couple of days, the rains came down from the heavens. As a result, the plants hung down over their supporting cages; their stems were broken and their petals fell to the ground. It seems as if it is not easy being a plant or a gardener.

Nature shows us so many parables of life; the peonies have shown perseverance through so many trials over the last few years. They finally came through in all their beauty, even if only for a brief moment. I am sure that they will produce another profusion of blossoms next year—they will not be discouraged by their brief showing followed by a quick fall to the ground.

Oh that we, as Christian writers, would take the lessons from the peonies and keep on trying our best no matter how slow our progress may seem to us or how short our success may be.

© Judith Lawrence
Author of Glorious Autumn Days: Meditations for the Wisdom Years; and Grapes From The Vine, Book of Mystical Poetry. Both available at Author of Prayer Companion: A Treasury of Personal Meditation, available at Chapters and
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