Planting Hope in Winter

A spring with the promise of tulips helps a military mom wait for her deployed son to return home.

Posted in , Nov 20, 2017

Planting hope for spring with tulip bulbs

I’m not much of a gardener. I love having beautiful flowers—but I don’t have a good track record when it comes to making them grow. During our son’s first deployment, life conspired to change that. 

A few months after our son left for the Middle East, my friend gifted me with a box of tulip bulbs. My face immediately betrayed my confusion and dismay. She laughed at my expression, but wasn’t the least bit disconcerted. Instead she walked me through the process of planting them. 

She explained that these bulbs were put into the ground in the fall and lay dormant all winter. They had all the nutrients they needed inside the bulb and would come out in the spring. “When you see the leaves of the tiny flowers pushing toward the sun, you’ll know that it’s almost time for your son to come home. They’ll give you hope when you need it the most.”

I thanked her—trying to show my gratitude for her gift—and then left the carton in my garage, intending to ignore it. The last thing I needed was a spring without hope. But every time I ventured out there, my eye fell on the box. I admit that I didn’t really want to go to the trouble to plant them and fail in making them come up in the spring, but their presence rebuked me. So I gave in and ventured into my garden for a session of bulb planting.

It was a long winter—cold and dark. I endured both the weather and the loneliness and fear I felt with our son away. Dead leaves, frost and finally a sprinkling of snow covered the area where I’d planted those flowers, and I soon forgot they were there.

Finally the weather began to warm. One day, as I walked down our front steps, I noticed an area of green. I bent down to inspect the situation more clearly and saw that those tulips had begun to grow, their tiny leaves forcing their way to the sun.

Day after day I noted the flowers’ progress. And day after day, the time approached when our son would finally be home. It was as if those flowers were a physical representation of the hope I’d been afraid to let bloom during the dark winter months. Now with spring just around the corner, nothing could keep either of us from straining toward the light

Almost all of those bulbs bloomed. And with each brightly colored flower, I marked off one day closer to getting to hold my son in my arms again.

So often we don’t know when our hope is growing. God works things together deep inside our hearts and souls. He brings joy out into the open only after the growth has occurred. It’s a lesson I’ll never forget.

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