African violets in the stores are always in full bloom. I am lured by their beauty and think that if they can thrive under harsh store lights, surely they will thrive in my home. Or not.
My grandmother had a beautiful array of these flowers in the window of her small, neighborhood grocery store and whenever we visited, they were in bloom. I’ve even seen them thrive in the cubical world at work and bloom repeatedly.
I’ve made several attempts over the years to enjoy these lovely plants. Once the original blooms die off, I never got them to bloom again. I tried various windows and researched how often to water and feed them. Each effort eventually ended in long seasons of healthy, green stems and leaves, but no flowers.
Now that I am retired, I thought I would give these flowers another try. I bought seven plants, all in full bloom. As before, the blossoms eventually died off and beautiful, evergreen leaves remained. But this time I was able to give them proper attention and, after several months, I saw tiny buds begin to form. By fall, all plants were in full bloom.
By fall, I was also back in the classroom after a 30+ year absence. I am a volunteer tutor two mornings a week. It took a few weeks, but gradually, my skills and enthusiasm returned. I was beginning to thrive again in an environment once very near and dear to my heart.
As I look back over the decades, I began to identify times in my life when I was involved in challenges and projects that brought out the best in me. In between those peaks were the evergreen times when there were no clusters of varied blooms, just routine, yet productive, days.
I have often thought of different phases of my life as growth cycles but not necessarily as blooming cycles. As I see the many activities I have already incorporated into my retirement lifestyle since February, I realize I am not only in a growth cycle but most definitely a blooming cycle. It is sweet.
Isaiah 40:8 reminds me that eventually these cycles of change will come to an end, but one thing will remain always:
“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.” (NIV)
Changing from going to work every day to having multiple choices of how to live each day was a time of stress that yielded to a time of peace. Throughout it all, God’s Word sustained me with instruction and promise. My African violets remind me that whether my life is in an evergreen stage, a blooming stage, or eventually, a dying stage, God’s Word will not change. That is a source of great comfort to me.