I was walking through my house yesterday when the windows suddenly brightened with sunshine. After rain and hail all day, a break in the clouds delivered an unexpected but welcome dose of sunshine. As I glanced into the dining room, a fiery glow caught my eye. My amaryllis plant, backlit by the sun, was radiating colors of reds, oranges, and yellows. While it basked in the sunshine that was streaming in through the windows, I knew I had to grab my camera. Some opportunities can’t be wasted, and sunshine on the Oregon coast in February is one of them.
I seated myself on the floor next to the dining room’s French doors leading into our backyard. As I gazed at the amaryllis plant now removed from the table and sitting on the floor with me, a thought crossed my mind.
Sometimes I wish I was an amaryllis.
There’s something spectacular about the life cycle of an amaryllis bulb. Most of its time is spent hibernating in the dirt, insulated from the world. It passes the days absorbing the needed nutrients, hoarding energy for the time when it must make an actual public appearance. (Sound familiar, my fellow introverts?) It lies in rest, waiting. It sits in silence, hoping. For months on end, all that can be viewed of it is the dirt, the mulch, the bare earth covering it. All the while, the world continues on, completely unaware of the magic that sits just below the surface. But that magic, that spark, that splendor, though hidden, still exists. That unseen beauty just below the surface is readying itself for its moment of growth, hiding in wait for its moment to reach towards the light, to bring itself out of the mire. It is preparing for its rebirth.
After months of anticipation, after receiving nourishment from the waters of life, the bulb emerges. As it barely breaks the surface, it receives its first breath of fresh air.
That initial glimpse above the soil is all the encouragement the amaryllis needs to continue its journey. And as the bulb grows, bit by bit, the smallest growth builds upon itself, accumulating strength, fortifying the stems. Water poured upon its solid foundation is life-giving, as is the sunshine that delivers needed energy.
New heights are being reached daily, as day after day, the plant continues to rise upward. Reaching deep into its being, the stem begins to produce buds. As they start to unfold, a beauty unrivaled in every aspect emerges to show its gorgeous face. What depths it must draw from to perform such a task! To have lived in the mire, cold and in darkness, to then muster an indescribable strength to help raise itself above the dirt in pursuit of the sun, is nothing short of a miracle.
Not only did it rise above the humble beginnings, it thrived because of them. After the darkest days, the amaryllis doesn’t just exist, it flourishes. Through adversity, with grit and determination, it blossoms. It is a true source of wonder.
I think I truly want to be like an amaryllis, and yet I know…
That’s not the end of the story of the amaryllis. No matter how much it grows, how successfully it blooms, its moments of glory are fleeting, they are seasonal. The colors fade, the blossoms wilt, the green stems start to fade to brown.
After so much time colorfully thriving, of standing strong, fatigue begins to weigh heavily on the plant. The loss of vibrancy is a signal to the plant and those around it that it is again time when change must occur. On a day no one looks forward to, the stalk must be cut down, the plant pruned. The season of waiting must return.
To see the beauty disappear beneath the soil could be a cause for despair, if one was not aware of the truth. In the mire, in the quiet, in the dirt and the solitude, there is rest, there is healing, there is restoration.
I can’t help but think we are all like an amaryllis.
We are all in an adventurous cycle called life. It’s a cycle that brings about new beginnings, fresh starts, seasons of change, of growth, of renewal. And as colorful as life is, it also brings seasons of darkness, of quiet, of waiting, of wondering. We go through painful seasons of withering, of fading, of pruning. After months buried in the muck, we begin to doubt that beauty exists or that we will ever have the strength to rise above the mire where we currently reside.
Yet it is in the depths that we learn of our resilience. The moments we spend in rest are where we gather our strength. The time spent waiting is where we learn to refocus our energy. Moments in the quiet are where we grow our resolve.
I’m convinced our darkest days are not to break us, but to help us grow into stronger versions of ourselves. Our time waiting will inevitably lead to us to breaking forth from the mire, to rise upwards, and to bask in the sunshine once again.
If you are in full bloom, relish every moment in the spotlight.
If you are withering and weary, don’t fear the pruning, embrace the idea of rest.
If you are in the dark, waiting to break free, may a fresh breath of air soon wash over you as this season in the darkness breaks open to allow you to rise towards the sunshine once again.