Pride of Madeira and Pride of Pity

Echium candicans
One Purple Flower and a Prideful Heart

Camped out on the sofa with a green fleece throw, a few books, the remote to the television, and a box of tissue, I resigned myself to another day sidelined from my life by a cold. I’d been sick for nearly a week and I was weary.

I alternated between giving myself little pep talks and scolding myself.
“It’s just a cold. It’ll pass. Have some more orange juice.”
“You wimp! People are carrying on despite serious illnesses and you’re letting a stinking cold make you miserable!”

The weather didn’t help: rain fell, day after day. Everything I could see through the window was gray, muddy, and soggy.

The to-do list that I carry in my brain was growing longer and longer. I prayed: “Father, I don’t have time for this right now! Please restore my health. I’ve got things to do!”

“Not yet,” I heard. “Take a nap!”

I stretched out on the sofa and dreamed. My husband stood before me. Next to him was my boss. Rich said, “I can cook too, you know!” My boss said, “We did manage before we hired you. We can certainly muddle through without you for a few days!” In unison they said, “The shrub has many flowers.”

I woke with a start and shook my head. Through the bay window, I saw that despite the rain, despite the cold, the first flower on my Pride of Madeira had unfurled. Amidst all the green cones, one was flaunting its lavender blooms.

Truth deflated me. All my worries about resting, stepping outside my daily routine, leaving my work undone, were driven by pride. Other people could stand in the gap–competently. Hadn’t Rich managed to keep us fed during my illness? Hadn’t work at the office rolled along, despite my absence? This cold wasn’t keeping me from my life; this cold was part of my life, and I could learn something from it, if only I’d quit whining and listen.

Everybody gets a turn at being the one lavender bloom. This wasn’t my week. I needed to rest, relax my grip on my obligations, and and let this minor illness do its humbling work on my heart.

5 You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time,
7 casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.
1 Peter 5:5-7 (NASB)


  1. Don't be hard on yourself. No matter what it teaches us about humility (those germs are SO TINY), a head/chest cold is still a miserable thing to have to endure.

  2. Thanks, Red. You're very kind.