Wildflowers have always been a favorite of mine. Yet, what some call wildflowers, others call weeds. That may make some wonder why I would title this blog writing, Prayers are Like Wildflowers. Isn’t that similar to saying that prayers are like weeds? Hmmm. That’s sometime to think about for sure. However, my intent today started as one to talk about the way that nature can inspire our spiritual path in times of trial.
My morning started out painful and groggy. The dreams from the night were of people fighting and arguing (much like we see in the news). Needless to say, I was glad to awaken to a beautiful spring morning. The birds were rejoicing at the light. After all the dim mornings of winter, it was a wonder to walk into my den and see it lit up. That light broke into the darkness of the dreams.
As I sat to read my devotions for the morning however, a sadness lingered trying to press me towards despair. One of the challenges of learning to live with a disability, is to find one’s place in the world. I have always been a person who believes in the power of prayer. When I first became disabled, I renewed my commitment to a life of prayer. Thought that the path of prayer as one that would make everything “alright”. That somehow I would have value because of my devotion to the life of prayer.
“Prayer is not asking. It is a longing of the soul. It is daily admission of one’s weakness. It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart.”
― Mahatma Gandhi
Yet, the struggle between a Mary and Martha dichotomy continues to eat at my self-worth. Those of us who grew up in the church know the story. Anyone who would read it now still understands on several levels the challenges of being a person who gets things done or being a person who waits. Our world is one that lifts up the prestige and value in being a person who gets things done (Martha). Yet, Jesus tells us we need to be still more often to listen to life, to the message of our souls. Frederick Buechner calls it “Listening to your life” in his devotional.
Luke 10:38-42 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Jesus Visits Martha and Mary
38 Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39 She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. 40 But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; 42 there is need of only one thing.[a] Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”
Prayer as a way of life has been around for centuries. The current political climate has caused many to use the word prayer in the wrong context; as a way of excusing bad behavior or as a way of putting up a front. Others are shouting that prayer is not valid, that action is needed. Prayer is misinterpreted as inaction or allowing injustice. When in reality, prayer is only the precursor to action and the preparation for right action in the name of God.
“The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.”
― Søren Kierkegaard
Wildflowers. That’s where I started right? The dreams that had awakened me had caused me to have the world’s problems on my mind and heart. Reading my devotion was a comfort and the particular devotion I read even started by saying, “Don’t be so hard on yourself.” I read the scripture discussing how God would use my life no matter what. Though the light broke into the darkness of the morning, my spirit was still murky with hurt and sadness.
Changing chairs to face the sun, my eyes fell on a book that I forgot I had. A Bouquet from Heaven: Celebrating God’s Magnificence through His Gift of Wildflowers by Melva Stephens Lard, is a book I found at City Lights Bookstore where I worked for so many years. The beautiful cover caught my eye and the title made me smile. I remember the first time I saw it. As a fan of both wildflowers and devotionals I chose to keep it for my bookshelf.
I began to thumb through it and read the reflections and appreciate the beautiful illustrations. Each wildflower illustration brought back memories and feelings associated with finding those flowers on my hikes or walks down dirt roads. Ms. Lard’s way of writing reminds me of the devotionals I read of my mother or grandmothers.
The book and its flowers reminded me also of the times as a youth when we were taught to go into the woods to pray. As young Girls in Action (G.A.), we attended Camp Mundo Vista. Every morning we were encouraged to find a rock or a tree where we felt safe and to
pray and read the Bible. It was a way that we were being taught to pray first and act second. At that same camp, my favorite time of each hike was when they showed us the wildflowers.
Wildflowers pop up anywhere. Like other flowers, they do have preferences for light or the woods. The thing that is so beautiful about them for me is that they are always a surprise. With wildflowers, we don’t expect them to bloom because we often don’t know that a seed has been planted by the wind or the beak of a bird. As a result, any time we happen upon a wildflower there is a sense of delight.
The first time NC started planting wildflowers on interstates, I almost wrecked. It was rush
hour and for some reason I took a different route to work. As I came around a curve on I-77, there was a field of bright red poppies. The sun hit them where they glowed. It was so beautiful and captured my attention so much, I almost drove off the road into them.
Wildflowers capture our attention. When we pray, when we take time to be still and listen to our lives, prayers can capture our attention too. Prayers can show us where the beauty lies in life. Being still can also reveal to us those places that are desolate and that perhaps need attention. Perhaps the place we thought was desolate is not so bad, but it is a place we don’t know. A prayer grows there, and soon we can see that there is potential for life. Maybe it’s not the life we planned, but it is still life. Beauty can happen anywhere. Prayers too.
 “BibleGateway.” Www.biblegateway.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 May 2018.