Thursday, September 25, 2014

We Can't All Be Monarchs!

Oh I am blessed! I have available to me two hours every other week in which I volunteer at Sugar Sand Park in Boca Raton, FL. I am a Butterfly Garden Guardian! Who would have ever thought this Jersey girl turned Floridian would dig and plant, re-plant and chat away with flowery faces in a garden all year round?

Growing up, I had a dream one day of becoming a Horticulturist. But that did not happen. I became a Culinary Arts/Hospitality major instead.

I remember the white metal plant card my Grampop gave me one year for Christmas. My dad assembled it mumbling that it was a waste of time because he assumed I would soon tire of this gift like I did with all the other childhood toys I had acquired in my young life. When most 7-year-olds were listing Barbies and plastic mini kitchenettes on their "I've been good" list for Santa, I was begging for a watering can and plant cart.

The plant cart was set up. I did not receive potting soil for Christmas, though. I remember going out into our backyard, with  my winter coat and mittens in search of some dirt I could dig up from the frozen ground. I stabbed at that lifeless Terra-firma until a few caked pieces of dry dirt encased in ice were placed into my black plastic pot. I placed a saucer underneath, plunked the pot down on the cart and went back out in search of another pot, saucer and spot of land in which to repeat the arduous task.

I did not have seeds, plants or anything to place in these pots, which now sadly sat (sans plant life) on the white metal cart in my bedroom. And so, I cut a piece from the hanging Wandering Jew plant (which my Grampop mostly likely bought me!) that hung over the doorway to my alcove on the way to the attic. I snuck a glass from the kitchen (later got caught and had to replace that glass with a pickle jar) and patiently waited for that Wandering Jew to root. And it did! I propagated many plants from that one sickly Wandering Jew hanging basket. My white metal plant cart soon held many black plastic pots with dusty hard caked mud with Wandering Jews. As I sit here now and think back about those days of carefully tending my "garden", I am slightly regretful. I had done everything alone. I could have learned so much about the plant which held a name which I now know had Biblical significance. Alas, fast forward to today.....

I am standing in the middle of Sugar Sand Park being given a beautiful gift and card signed by staff members of the park. These three special people made up an international holiday which they called "International Butterfly Garden Volunteers Week" (or something like that) in order to bless me and show appreciation for my time in the garden volunteering. They gave me a purple shirt (my fav color) which listed "Advice from a Monarch" on the front along with a picture of a Monarch. The advice was so good but my favorite was the very last line, "We can't all be Monarchs!".

And so, I was convicted. God, I was never created to be a Monarch. I was instead made to be a White Peacock Butterfly or Yellow Sulphur! I was set apart for Your purposes to do Your work. Whether I am alone or with wonderful people like those as Sugar Sand - You see me. You give me JOY. You put a song in my heart and a smile on my lips and the voice I hear in stillness is Yours. As I weed and water and wonder - - as I sit and look up into the Slash Pine hammock overheard, you send Zebra Longwings and even Banana Spiders to intrigue me. I do not see the possibility of a sting when I see the deadly creepy crawly creatures (or bees pollinating two inches from where I prune), but instead I observe an intricately woven crystal dew drop design - a glimpse of the beauty of my Creator - - who wants me to see the magnificence of His design no matter where I am.

After moving to Florida, I remember walking one day through my neighborhood. I was quite shocked to see an entire lawn of Wandering Jews! There were even variegated varieties!!! I took a picture. I could not even believe my eyes and I did say aloud, "You are too funny, God. I spent how many arduous days and nites trying to keep one tendril of a Wandering Jew alive in a pot filled with caked lifeless dirt - - and here these grow as weeds. Ha ha ha God!"

If I were a Monarch, I may have missed God's humor. I may have just blindly followed the leader all my life and just migrated through every season without being rebellious and then not being the prodigal and missing out on so many miracles because I left and then came home. I would no doubt have become boring. My nickname would not be "Flower Child" and my favorite color would possibly be black! But it's not. I bucked the system. I flew above flowers I could have easily landed on. I took a different flight....

Yes, though I volunteer at a butterfly garden, I have also expanded my personal "white plant cart" a bit. My garden has grown.  The soil is no longer depleted or chemical laden. I actually have delved into Vermiculture and have worm friends that rely on me for food. We have Gulf Fritallaries, Yellow Sulphur, Giant Swallowtail, White Peacocks - - and of course we always have Monarchs. My neighbor came over recently and as she held the baby Milkweed sproutlings and baby Monarch catepillar I was sending her home with- she looked at me and exclaimed, "You are like a Buddhist!"

I looked at her and said, "I was not a Monarch in a former life and certainly have not and will not come back as a Monarch in my next life. This is my one and only life this side of Heaven. Not a Buddhist. I am a born again Christian. I realized my need for a Savior when Eve in the Garden made a very bad choice. It all started in the garden. Sin. And now I realize just because sin entered man in the garden, the garden does not have to be a place of death. Instead, we bring life to the garden. The Master Gardener is God."

She had questions. We sat in the shade. I continued the conversation by asking her if she would like to hear about my white metal plant cart. She did. She also listened as I shared my Wandering Jew crusade. I didn't have any Wandering Jew to send her home with, though. Those plants are everywhere by the roadside here in South Florida.Some consider those plants weeds. I like to think of them as humble beginnings for greater growth.

There is relationship in the garden. God knew what He was doing when He created the very first garden. He also knew what He was doing when He made my Grampop buy me that white metal plant cart. I am grateful - - even though I will never be a Monarch!

Isaiah 58 (NLT)
1“Shout with the voice of a trumpet blast.
Shout aloud! Don’t be timid.
Tell my people Israela of their sins!
2Yet they act so pious!
They come to the Temple every day
and seem delighted to learn all about me.
They act like a righteous nation
that would never abandon the laws of its God.
They ask me to take action on their behalf,
pretending they want to be near me.
3‘We have fasted before you!’ they say.
‘Why aren’t you impressed?
We have been very hard on ourselves,
and you don’t even notice it!’
“I will tell you why!” I respond.
“It’s because you are fasting to please yourselves.
Even while you fast,
you keep oppressing your workers.
4What good is fasting
when you keep on fighting and quarreling?
This kind of fasting
will never get you anywhere with me.
5You humble yourselves
by going through the motions of penance,
bowing your heads
like reeds bending in the wind.
You dress in burlap
and cover yourselves with ashes.
Is this what you call fasting?
Do you really think this will please the Lord?
6“No, this is the kind of fasting I want:
Free those who are wrongly imprisoned;
lighten the burden of those who work for you.
Let the oppressed go free,
and remove the chains that bind people.
7Share your food with the hungry,
and give shelter to the homeless.
Give clothes to those who need them,
and do not hide from relatives who need your help.
8“Then your salvation will come like the dawn,
and your wounds will quickly heal.
Your godliness will lead you forward,
and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind.
9Then when you call, the Lord will answer.
‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply.
“Remove the heavy yoke of oppression.
Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors!
10Feed the hungry,
and help those in trouble.
Then your light will shine out from the darkness,
and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.
11The Lord will guide you continually,
giving you water when you are dry
and restoring your strength.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like an ever-flowing spring.
12Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities.
Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls
and a restorer of homes.
13“Keep the Sabbath day holy.
Don’t pursue your own interests on that day,
but enjoy the Sabbath
and speak of it with delight as the Lord’s holy day.
Honor the Sabbath in everything you do on that day,
and don’t follow your own desires or talk idly.
14Then the Lord will be your delight.
I will give you great honor
and satisfy you with the inheritance I promised to your ancestor Jacob.
I, the Lord, have spoken!”