Last year I was given a droopy little clematis plant. When I received it, it was only a few inches tall and a little wilted from being uprooted. I planted it with high hopes, caring for it daily, along with the rest of my plants, but it never bloomed. By fall, it looked nearly defeated, with only a few faint vines remaining on it. As much as I loved it, I was unsure of its future. Winter arrived, my gardening put on pause, the plant was not thought about until this spring.
As I was pulling weeds from one of the garden boxes a few weeks ago, I was delighted to see the plant had already grown more in the short amount of spring we’ve experienced than it did all last year. Over the next weeks, green leaves quickly vined out and upwards from the plant, climbing the trellis that had been awaiting the plant’s growth. And then the buds of future flowers started to appear, one, two, three…four! Elated to see the progress, I awaited their arrival with more anticipation than I feel I should logically invest into a flower. As the plant had not bloomed last year, I had no clue what color of blossom to expect. And then the first bloom opened. Purple! A glorious deep purple that has softened as the days have passed.
The plant had been nothing short of sickly, it had shown such little strength in its early days. I had prepared myself that it might not survive the winter, might not make it through the cold days that lingered for months on end. I’d previously had little success with clematis plants. Yet, defying all odds, there it stands now, climbing to almost five feet tall, more flower buds forming on it daily.
Watching this flower’s climb to unrivaled beauty makes me think about how its story relates to life. How find ourselves in phases of life where we are sickly, we exude little promise of making it through the winters we’re facing. This lowly little clematis is a representation of so many people right now, wilted and withering, looking like hope might be lost for their future.
Winter is a dark and desolate place.
It’s the winters in life when the blossoms die off, the green leaves fade, the weak branches are pruned. It’s the winter when beauty is hard to behold, as all the energy is being stored up for the next spring’s great awakening. But all the while the winter is passing, the roots are finding themselves more and more secured into the ground in which they are planted. With every wintry storm that passes by, the roots, out of necessity, dig deeper and cling harder to keep their hold. The plants, though outwardly appearing dormant, are growing stronger deep within themselves against the winds of life that try to blow them over and break them down.
So many of us have withered through our winters, have faded into leafless branches, the remainder of ourselves left quaking in the cold. Many have wondered if they would even survive to see their next spring. Many are at the point of feeling without hope. And it’s entirely too easy to forget that, without winter, we would have no spring. Without the dark winter days spent finding who we really are, we would miss the opportunity to discover what truly roots us to the core. In our darkest days, we tend to cling to what matters most, to what holds us firmly rooted. We find our faith, our friends, our family are where our existence and our purpose lies. Our faith, hope, love, our creativity, our passions, these things that hold the most value, these become our driving forces the things that remain, after a long, dark winter. And these are the things that eventually help us break forth into our own unrivaled beauty.
I feel spring’s approach this year, both in weather and in spirit. After a lingering winter, I am ready and rooted to welcome it whole-heartedly. What about you?
What season are you in currently?