I went for aI went for a walk today while my mother was being tested. In Tulsa's very own Rose Gardens. Granted ... August, when we've had streak of 100 degree temps is not when you should be visiting rose gardens ...but something struck me about life.
As I walked around the garden, I was saddened by all the pale and frail, wilting roses. The proud strong rose bushes were producing roses that were frail, and had few petals, pale in color compared to what they had most likely produced in their prime season. Bushes proudly proclaimed their labels, in rows, laid out as if they were royalty of the city. Crumbling around the garden were petals falling to the ground in an ugly brown mess.
All over the garden were signs that proclaimed rose bushes that claimed the bushes to be "Pink Chiffon" so pale an artist wouldn't even deem it call it white. Golden Peach was a dim and ugly burned gold that was burned by the sun, petals curled and hiding their top layers from the unforgiving heat. Royal reds and once brilliant yellows now dim and dingy with the oppressing heat. The once inviting garden was a sad and grim place.
Walking to the garden center to use the restroom, I saw another flower garden with more signs ... proclaiming flowers I didn't recognize ...dim purples, faded yellows, even greens ...all wilted and worn. Placed just so ... desperately needing water. Desperately needing care.
The soil was well tilled, no weeds were growing ... yet, no one thought to pluck away the dead flowers ... occasionally ... a new flower would peek out ..strong and brilliant ...and you knew that because it too, would soon be ugly like it's peers. Overcome by the heat and just not willing to try anymore.
As I went into the garden center, there was one patch of flowers ...it said that it was tended to by 'the children's garden club'. No signs declaring what types of flowers, but there were more than a dozen varieties. All thriving. Many of them the type in the garden I'd just passed.
The colors as bright as a child's color crayon box and ready to paint the rainbow in the sky. Yellows that could compete with the sun for brightness. White so pure and bright you'd swear it got it's color from freshly driven snow. Purple that could have only come from the most royal of coats. Even green flowers ..deep greens, bright greens, medium greens, of several shades. Reds as bright as a fire truck. The small garden sparked of life ...and yet ...not one sign that said "I am a cornflower" or "I am a bluebell".
The small garden ...unassuming, out of the way, the flowers not separated into the proud strong bushes with the paths leading up to them laid out like royalty for all to see. The flowers, bunched together, a small community, thriving together and humble in it's very existence.
And I thought ... who's garden would I rather be in? How much like God's word is this example of a garden laid out before me. The last will be first and the first will be last. The garners put so much time and effort into "THE ROSES" placing them just so ...yet, when it is out of season, the royalty ...just isn't being cared for ... the proud bushes ... don't know they don't matter anymore ...and they bully their way for attention ... sucking up all the nutrients from the soil ... demanding attention ...yet ...sadly failing at their job of providing the beauty they could be providing with some attention ...some gardening ... some pruning. A green house for proper protection from the heat ...
Compare to this little garden, tended to by children ... tender loving care ... same plants ... same season ... thriving in spite of the ugly temperatures ... bright and living. Unassuming. Undemanding ... and yet, the beauty shines.
Next spring, the roses the flowers will be in their prime, and in all likelihood, this little children's garden will be still flourishing ... but go unnoticed, until once again, the regal roses become faded and dingy by the summer sun.
Who's garden would you rather be in ... the one with the year round children's garden club, who lovingly, without judgement, or thought to who is going to see you or where you came from ... proudly grooms you ... nourishes you in a community for your strength and beauty ... or the Rose Garden ...where you are set apart on display ...your name on a plaque for all to see what your color and type is ... but you are only there for a season... and only cared for because someone is paid to do so.
The first shall be last, and the last shall be first ... come to me with the heart of a child ... unconditional love ... strength of community ... so much of God was shown to me in those two garden's today. I hope, I never forget it.