Muddling Through Flowers
I’m never going to enter the Sylvia Cup Design Competition. But I do enjoy arranging an armload of pretty flowers. So when our neighbor celebrated her birthday, and the florist didn’t have a made-up bouquet that caught my eye, I happily selected a bundle of blooms and set off to arrange them myself, at home.
It wasn’t the best decision I’ve ever made. The workday had been especially challenging and I came home to a coming-down-with-something husband stretched out miserably on the couch. But I pressed on.
Design is a funny thing. Generally, when I arrange flowers, I have an idea in mind, and as I begin trimming stems and tucking the flowers in, the bouquet builds itself before my eyes. The work flows along quickly, and before I have time to think about it, I’m done.
But these flowers would not cooperate. The tulips were striking for shorter stems. The lilies refused to yield their pistils without staining my fingers, the butcher block, and their own petals. The eucalyptus leaves were plotting a takeover, overflowing the vase. I trimmed and tucked, untucked, trimmed, retucked, until the joy of creating had evaporated. And the stems had ended up shorter than I planned.
I finally stopped, feeling more defeated than finished. I took the flowers next door, relieved that my neighbor wasn’t home. I wouldn’t have to face her as I delivered the disappointing flowers. I stooped and left the flowers and a card next to her front door, then marched back home, emptied of our offering and a little grim.
These flowers demanded more of my time than I expected. My go-go mentality believes an equation: more time = better outcome. Isn’t that what we’ve all been taught? Don’t rush through important jobs. Take your time and do your best. And these flowers, a love offering for a dear neighbor, were definitely important. So one might expect that the time I devoted to this arrangement would have resulted in a more lovely bouquet.
Flowers don’t know this rule. They respect beauty, not equations. This, I see now, was my problem: In my pride, I thought that my fiddling could somehow improve the beauty of the deep purple tulips, the white lilies perfuming my fingers as I worked, the asters standing shoulder to glorious shoulder to fill the gaps.
But they were already perfect. I could have just jammed them, untrimmed, unfussied up, unfettered by my flailing attempts to improve them, into a Mason jar and the result would have surpassed my “creation.”
I wonder if I’ve learned something.
When pride comes, then comes dishonor,
But with the humble is wisdom.
Proverbs 11:2 (NASB)