Faith, God, Redemption, Spiritual Life, Suffering

And Then I Saw the Flowers

August 31, 2016

US-ENVIRONMENT-WILDFLOWERS

It starts with a few storms – some good, heavy rainfall. Something rare for Death Valley, California. Just enough to soak the parched earth in one of the hottest, driest places in the world. Just enough to encourage growth in a seemingly barren desert.

Once every ten years or so, unforeseen beauty blankets the dusty ground. Thousands of flowers emerge in a phenomenon called a Super Bloom. And for a brief time…life exists in a place named for death.
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It only took a week for my whole perspective to change. Just one week for my wilderness, my desert, to start looking like a field of wildflowers. Nothing about my circumstances changed…just my view…

It started with one flower. I was scrolling through stock photos of the desert to use for my last post when I came across an image – just one – that seemed completely out of place in my search. In the middle of picture after picture of dry, cracked earth was a desert scene with one single flower sprouting up from the rocky ground. Had I been scrolling quicker or not looking as closely, I would have missed it. But the pop of color caught my eye and made me pause…click…and study for a minute this beauty in a such an unexpected place.

In light of all I had just written about the miles and miles of nothingness in the desert I remember, it was kind of mind-boggling to me. How could anything so dainty and delicate grow in a place that seems so desolate and unwelcoming? And where there’s one flower, there must be more…but how?
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This image stuck with me over the next week, forcing me to look at my own wilderness a little differently. If flowers can exist in the middle of the desert, what kind of life and growth am I missing right in front of me?

And then I saw the flowers.

It started with just one – a small, peaceful sigh as I walked into my favorite little coffeeshop one day and was reminded how thankful I am that I get to work there, that for the first time in a long time I truly love my job.

Then another – making last minute dinner plans with sweet friends, bonding over tacos and memories from a wild and crazy year, and remembering that even when life feels a little lonely, I am truly loved and cared for by some really special people.

And slowly I started to see even more bright petals popping up all around me. Some new, and some that have been there for so long, but I haven’t noticed.

I’ve been so focused on the destination just beyond the desert that I’ve overlooked the subtle reminders of beauty, of hope, of growth and life, right here in the wilderness.

Don’t get me wrong – it still feels a lot like New Mexico, or maybe Death Valley, and my last post still holds true for me in a lot of ways. The desert is still hot and dry, long and uncomfortable. But now…now it has flowers springing up everywhere. Suddenly even the desert is lovely to me. Because even in the most unlikely places, life and beauty can thrive.
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One of the most captivating things to me about the Super Bloom is the growth process.

First there is a season of heavy storms. Fall brings rain that penetrates deep into the heart of the desert and initiates a growth that, at the time, can’t be seen.

That growth continues underground throughout the next season, developing roots, strengthening and maturing every day, but still going unnoticed through most of the winter.

Just before spring, the desert begins showing signs of a long-awaited Super Bloom. But while we can guess and anticipate and imagine what must be in store, we still can’t quite predict all that we’re about to experience.

Then it happens. First one. Then another. Starting in the valleys, the lowest points, and working their way up the mountains all around.

And a few months later, Death Valley is alive.
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If we’re not paying attention, all we’ll see is that dry, cracked, dusty earth. But if we look closely, we’ll start to see them…one at a time…flowers all around us, reminding us that maybe the wilderness isn’t so bad after all. What if it isn’t meant to be a hard place? What if it’s meant to be a gift? A place to just rest and be, to stop looking desperately at the horizon for a sign that we’re almost out of the desert, and instead notice and enjoy the flowers?

In my wilderness, God has given me an exciting new city that makes me feel alive, a beautiful family that has become my own, a house that has become home in every way, a new job that has filled me with so much joy, the most encouraging and kind-hearted new friends…and more flowers to discover every day.

It gives me hope that maybe this is my growing season. Maybe my Super Bloom is just beginning. Im starting to see flowers in this valley…but I think I’m working my way up towards a mountain.

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  • Beloved August 31, 2016 at 3:45 pm

    Chelsea, thank you for this.
    This series on the wilderness have been such an encouragement to me. They’ve each meant something really significant wherever I’m at.
    But this one is perfect. This past week I’ve been thinking about rejoicing when things get rough and counting blessings even when counting let downs and problems can be easier.
    Thanks again <3

  • A Worn Girl September 1, 2016 at 3:46 pm

    This series has been great, and this post was very inspirational. I loved how you said, “And slowly I started to see even more bright petals popping up all around me. Some new, and some that have been there for so long, but I haven’t noticed.” There are many, many times I don’t even notice the small growth and miracles God has given in my life…. Thank you!