Sunday, 5 April 2009

A Narcissus

If you have ever doubted the existence of God, contemplate the narcissus.

As one of the first flowers to bloom after the cold, apparently lifeless English winter, it is tangible proof of God's love for humanity. In the beauty of its pale, almost white petals, its proud, yellow trumpet and its wonderful scent, it announces unequivocally that winter has ended and warmer, lighter days are beginning.

How effectively this simple flower throws into perspective our doubting, hesitant efforts to realise even a small fraction of our true spiritual potential. The proud, confident bearing of that pale yellow head announces so eloquently that it, at any rate, has absolute trust in God and absolute faith in its own destiny.

No-one could guess from looking at a narcissus in bloom, the struggle that lies behind its glorious, faith-restoring blossom.

No hint here of the initial stirrings of life inside the bulb in the depths of winter, when the earth above and around it was frozen hard as iron; or of the effort and faith required for delicate leaves to push against the dark, unyielding earth until they reach the light. Even then the air is cold and the wind often blows as though it would sweep away such impertinent growth as cares to challenge the dark supremacy of winter.

Undeterred, the leaves continue to grow, continue to battle with the elements, fed by the reservoir of God's power contained within the small bulb below the ground. Here is no doubt, no uncertainty, no questioning as to why God should decree that this particular flower should have to struggle against such enormous odds to achieve its glorious destiny. No criticism that life is so much easier for the lupin or the antirrhinum. No envy of the rose or the dahlia!

The narcissus accepts life as it is and does not waste its energies on trying to be what it is not. When eventually the bud bursts into bloom to encapsulate the spring sunshine, even on the darkest day, what cheer it brings to us. Winter fades into memory as we breathe in its soft, sweet fragrance and the promise of early summer seems to shine from its golden trumpet.

When finally the time comes for the bloom to fade and pass away, it does so in the certain knowledge of destiny fulfilled against all the odds. The spirit of God which shone so brightly in the flower, returns to the bulb to prepare next Spring's miracle.

Surely there is a lesson here for us all. It recalls for us that wonderful passage in the Bible:

"Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these."

In this hectic, modern world it is so easy to take nature for granted. By so doing, we miss many opportunities for spiritual understanding and enlightenment and thus are we the poorer. We need to remind ourselves constantly that we are indeed the children of God with His divine spark within us all; to recall those wonderful words:

"In contemplation of created things, by steps we may ascend to God."

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