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Resurrection Rhododendrun

Updated: Aug 19, 2020

by guest blogger Jennifer Drummond /

When we moved into our home five years ago, an ancient rhododendron featured prominently at the corner of the house, its gnarled branches hanging ominously over the driveway. Gravity and age tugged at its branches, which scraped the windshield of our cars as we pulled in and out; what pale blooms there were peaked quickly. It was hard to be in the shadow of that great bush and not feel, well...overshadowed.

My husband and a friend decided late the following summer to tackle that bush. There was some trepidation about cutting back such a wizened old creature, but its leggy branches and weak blossoms seemed signs of a decade or more of neglect. As we proceeded, a little trimming turned into a lot of hacking, and suddenly we were staring at less than a third of what had been there. A few bare trunks, spindly leaves and a horrified silence loomed.

“Maybe we should just dig it all out now, and start fresh in the spring,” my husband wondered out loud. Too tired to continue, despite embarrassment at what the neighbors might think about our nearly naked side of the house, we left it. “Definitely dead,” said our friend.

All that fall, I secretly mourned the ancient-ness of that bush - how many springs had it bloomed for the previous residents? How many cold winters had passersby noticed its leaves, tightly curled against the cold? Would we have to completely remove it and admit its death?

As autumn moved into Advent, the story of the root of Jesse gently lodged in my imagination in a fresh way. Was it possible that this bush wasn’t dead, but would revive in the appropriate season? When I mentioned that thought to my husband and friend, doubt and skepticism shrouded both their faces. “It sure looks dead. Don’t really see how that could possibly come back.” I agreed, but all winter I nurtured that secret and hidden hope of resurrection.

Spring came s-l-o-w-l-y as it does in New England, in fits and starts of brown and desperate longing. I occasionally scanned the bush, but nothing new. Until, one day there was something - a sign of new growth! After that first glimpse, I scoured those trunks daily for green, for any change. Once those changes were visible and undeniable, I called husband and friend to see.

“Resurrection bush!” I crowed to them. Their faces, mirroring mine, now danced with joy and astonishment. Where there was no hope of life, now there was a resurrection bush and we three celebrated our own Easter morning that day in the driveway, rejoicing in a new season of growth.

Our inner lives also reflect the seasons in some ways. Our souls move through all of them over and over throughout our life, not always “in order,” or necessarily in conjunction with the actual season. Sometimes what is happening in your inner life “matches” what is happening in the externals, but sometimes it doesn’t; perhaps you are in a season of grief while the flowers are blooming sweetly all around. That juxtaposition can be jarring. Either way, examining the seasons and considering what gifts they offer us is a way to pay attention to your own inner life with God. Seasons (and God) always invite, and we can always respond.

Questions to consider:

What "season" are you in now with the Lord, and what is that like? Is there a particular invitation that God and "the season” may be offering you - to prune and release, to wait and trust, to pay close attention, to celebrate and tell others? How might you respond to this invitation?

Stay tuned for more posts about each particular season in the coming months!

Jennifer Drummond lives with her husband, two teenage children, and one sweet puppy in Asbury Grove, a Methodist Summer Camp. She loves photographing flowers and trees, contemplating the seasons and looking for beauty all around. In addition to providing spiritual direction and online retreats, she reads voraciously by the fireplace and blogs somewhat regularly at “That Got Me Thinking."

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