March 14, 2010

Monday Lenten Meditation II: Broken Tulips

The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway." --Mother Theresa

When I was a preschooler, my father and I planted tulip bulbs in the backyard of our house. The bed where the tulips were planted bordered an alley behind our yard, and was close to the gate which opened onto the alley. I remember anxiously awaiting the arrival of the flowers from these bulbs. I remember my mother telling me (years later) these bulbs were "championship" bulbs, and as the house was relatively new to our family, everyone was quite proud of decorating our first yard with plants which would offer beautiful blooms for years to come.

After a dispute with some neighborhood kids, we returned home one day (the following spring) and found our tulips broken, the rendered stalks tossed around the flower bed. Disappointment and anger welled up within us, and those responsible were never identified.

Now, decades later, tulips are my favorite symbol of spring. I've planted them in my own yard, with mixed success, because moles and other creatures have enjoyed snacking on the bulbs before they have a chance to break free of the earth.

It is worth doing good, not because someone may forget, as is often the case. It is worth doing good because someone will not forget. My father died eight years ago, in early spring, and tulips helped to decorate the church during his funeral service. What I remember most about the preschool tulip episode was not that someone destroyed the plants, but that the beauty and hope the plants represented remained. Remained and grew. As years passed, our yard was bordered with a huge rose garden, an assortment of green plants, and played host to numerous cookouts and a swing set from Sears & Roebuck. The tulip breakers didn't have the final word.

Do good--because someone will remember you and your desire to bring hope and a bit of beauty into the world.

No comments: