Water the Flowers, or Throw Them Away?

When I got home from work on Tuesday, I found that the large baskets of flowers hanging above the outside walkways on each floor of our apartment building had been replaced.  They had only been here for a couple of weeks.  For the last few days, the flowers had been drooping.  Jen and I did our best to water some of them nearest our apartment, as it appeared our apartment manager (who lives offsite) was only coming weekly to tend to them.  On hot days, that's just not enough.  

Apparently, our unsolicited efforts were not satisfactory.

All of the large baskets - 12 or so - have been replaced.  Beautiful, lush, colorful new flowers.  Where did the other ones go?  The trash heap?

I'm reminded of articles leading up to the 2008 Chinese Olympics, highlighting Chinese efforts to paint their desecrated, strip-mined mountains green to look pretty for the event.

We live in a world that wants beauty without effort.  We surgically "fake" real beauty, stretching, pulling, sucking and augmenting everything natural to look... unnatural.  We call it "beautiful.  Like flowers that go unwatered.  As a society - and now perhaps a species - largely addicted to consumption, we throw out what can't survive unfed, untended and (perhaps?) unloved.  Like Jonah, we only rejoice at what we are fortuitous enough to encounter: 
But the LORD said, "You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight." (Jonah 4:10) 
I believe we have a responsibility to tend what is wilting, to love what is unloved, to preserve what seems burdensome or inexpedient, and to care for things perhaps more easily discarded.  I wasn't sure where this post was leading, but I'm reminded that my commitment to Christianity is NOT because it's always such a lovely, beautiful, "convenient" organism.  It often is not.  And there are countless incarnations of spirituality and personal philosophy that may seem more... hmmm... progressive?  Modern?  Relevant?  Fashionable?  Dare I say "hip?"  

I'm the first to admit: the Christian faith looks too often wilted and ugly.  But I don't want to replace this flower.  It doesn't mean I don't see beautiful flowers elsewhere.  But I'm going to keep watering this one.  I don't mean to sound narcissistic here.  My water is no better than yours (I do believe there is living water to be found).   I want to remain resolute - ready to roll my sleeves up and keep watering.  Keep buying fertilizer.  It may take awhile.  But there are still some blossoms left...


Deidra said...

The office where I work has a contract with a company to tend the indoor plants that grow there. From time to time, the plant guy decides that a particular plant just doesn't make the cut anymore. He wraps the plant in brown paper and sets it by the entrance to our office building. When I first started working there, the security guard asked me if I wanted that first forlorn plant that sat by the door. I knew my husband would want it. Now, my husband's office is filled with thriving plants once discarded by the door. I asked my husband what his secret is and he said, "Well, first of all, they're not dead. They usually just need a new pot and a bit of water."

He's smart like that.

Peter J Walker said...

Deidra, love it: wilted things aren't dead. There are simply basic needs not being met.

Peter J Walker said...

Another followup - it's that thinking that is so key to how we start to right the massive ship of Western culture. We have to tend to the things that are broken, not simply make new things and forget the old. We have to recycle, in every aspect of our lives, our culture, even our spirituality. We have to conserve what remains. We have to live sustainably, love sustainably, and communicate sustainably. There's something to unpack: sustainable communication and sustainable relationships. Part of sustainable communities that comprise a broader culture that chooses vibrant living over the suicide machine of corporate/consumer culture.

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