I thought of my new house and a little black rain cloud appeared over my head. We were excited about moving to New Jersey from the midwest, but the real estate issue meant a major downgrade for us. Our new home was beautiful, but it was meant to be looked at, not lived in. It was a rare gem, a house built in 1790 that still stood. The windows, floors and white front porch were all original. They were also fragile, uneven, and impractical. With the most unspiritual of attitudes, I unpacked.
There was one horticultural deficit, and our first year in the house didn’t allow for its rectification. I grew up as a country girl and lived a couple of pale gray, winding miles from my grandparents. Their humble yard was bordered by a local attraction. My grandfather had planted lilac bushes decades ago, and something, maybe the soil composition, maybe 360 degree sunshine….something, caused them to become gigantic. They towered so high that a stepladder would be required to clip branches that he formed into sumptuous bouquets.
The interesting thing about them was that they were so bountiful that the massive withdrawal from their lucius bounty never seemed to be noticeable. It’s as if each harvested branch immediately grew back. Perhaps the constant pruning contributed to their strength and growth. I remember filling the trunk of our car with dark purple, white and pale lilac bunches, then transferring them to huge vases at home. They filled the kitchen and living room with such extravagant beauty that, with their intoxicating aroma, the sensual effect was profound.
If we could all give as they gave of their pride and joy, expecting a refilling of our supply, as they did, the world would change wonderfully.
It seemed my heritage and my destiny that my home would be flanked by lilacs. The year passed, my request for mandatory lilac bushes overshadowed by the maintenance of the landscaping that already existed. In our front yard, there was a substantial cluster of plants that remained plain but full throughout the year. This six foot high grove provided privacy for a section of the front porch, running a few yards’ length, stopping at the brick walk. I never gave it much thought because the yard contained an assortment of non-flowering greenery. It didn't occur to me that those bushes could be anything more than bushes.
I was disappointed that I didn’t get my lilacs that first year. I knew that they established slowly, and even after they were planted, we probably wouldn’t see blossoms for a few years. It seemed odd to have such an assortment of flowers without the classic northeastern lilacs represented, but I just added it to my list of disappointments. Little things sometimes matter.
Spring came after our first winter back on the East Coast, and it was welcome. Snow shovels were traded for the gardening tools that had been in hibernation. I sat on the white wicker couch on our pretty porch reading to my little girls one April day, and realized that the bushes a few feet from us were budding. I stood and inspected the slightly-opened mini-pods. I could not believe my eyes. From the narrow slits in the buds peeked lavender petals-to-be. I sat down, awestruck. The thick, tall plants were covered with clumps of buds. I hadn’t recognized the shape of the leaves, nor the structure of the plants. I now saw clearly that they were lilacs.
“I see how hard it is. Have these. I know you love them.”
I knew then that these lilacs would always remind me that God is always working to answer our prayers. For years, I marveled every May as vases filled our home and our senses, lilac blossoms at every turn. Psalm 27:14 tells us, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Sometimes we lose heart while we wait, but God knows our hearts and He hears our prayers. Answers to your prayers are germinating, and may be just around the corner. He answers prayers. He is faithful.