Amazing Grace

There are red and orange poppies blooming in my front yard this year. This in itself is not such an amazing thing, but the synchronicity of the event is rather extraordinary, and one worth sharing in detail. Perhaps some of you remember my article from last winter, entitled “Preparing the Garden”. In that piece, I described the process of planting many orange and magenta tulips, and envisioning them as an embodiment of the hopes I had for my life this spring and summer. Now I can share with you how that vision has played out in reality, and the surprising results of this project.

When I was planting the tulips last fall, I had a specific idea of what I wanted to see happen in my life. In addition to planting bulbs in the yard, I also saved some of the tulips, for “forcing” indoors. In this way, I set up an expectation of achieving the vision I had created for my future. But as I later learned, even with the best-laid plans and intentions, the universe often has other things in store for us.

First, the bulbs that I tried to “force” never bloomed at all. They sat in the sun in a south window for months, never breaking through the surface. Once spring arrived, I moved them outdoors, but they never did fulfill their potential. In contrast, the tulips that were planted in well-prepared soil and allowed to mature at their own pace blossomed into a beautiful display of vibrant color, just as I had imagined. Before spring arrived, I became aware that my original plans would not be fulfilled. But even though some elements of my “future vision” were not being played out successfully, I was encouraged by the beauty of the orange and red tulips that were blooming. I remained hopeful that things would turn out for the best.

I began to consider several options that might have a better or more appropriate outcome for me than my original plan, focusing on the elements that were most important: to find meaningful work where I could best use my talents and earn a comfortable income. I questioned myself repeatedly on how best to proceed, while continuing to honor the dream that had led me thus far. Several possibilities for change opened up for me during that time, and I considered each of them very carefully.

One path in particular seemed to be tugging at me, even though it was one I would not have considered just a few months earlier. This path would clearly qualify as meaningful work, and it offered the salary I needed. Yet there were so many unknowns connected with this option, I kept questioning my judgment in taking this path. It was then that I noticed the poppies.

One evening while sitting on my front porch, I noticed the unmistakable evidence of a stand of poppies, growing beside the tulips that had bloomed so magnificently for me. On closer inspection, I discovered there were two stands of poppies, and I had no idea where they came from. I have never planted poppy seeds in my front yard, and I’ve lived here for 15 years. There are no poppies growing in other yards in my neighborhood either. Where had they come from? Knowing that poppies are usually red or orange, I became fascinated by this development. Was this a “sign” that the vision I had created for myself last winter had transformed into a more appropriate outcome for me?

I went to the Internet to do some research, and found an interesting entry when I did a search on “poppies”. It said that poppies were connected to Morpheus, the Greek god of dreams, who is responsible for shaping our sleeping visions. Since the flowerbed was the same one where I had envisioned a “dream” for the future, it seemed highly synchronistic that it would now produce poppies - dream-shaping flowers - that would continue the blossoming of flame-colored flowers for me.

Poppies are unruly and unpredictable. On the day that I chose to accept the uncertain path that was offered to me, the first poppy bloomed. Since then, a profusion of poppies have continued to bloom in my front yard. One stand of the poppies is orange, the other is red. The flowers are bright as flame, fragile as a butterfly wing. Is there meaning behind any of this? I am not sure. But I continue to be fascinated by these poppies and their unwarranted, unplanned presence in my life. For me, it signifies an amazing grace that leads me onward, towards a more effective and rewarding life. I’m staying with the uncertain path, curious to see how it will unfold. Who knows what lies beyond the poppies? I only planted tulips, but the universe had much more in store for me. I’m gracefully trying to accept her bounty.

©1999 Marybeth Bethel