Usually by now the dried and tussled tops of my iris leaves have been trimmed back neatly and annuals and gladiolas overflow my flowerbeds with color.  I have several flowerbeds and each one is different and each one is special. The weeds – though maybe not completely non-existent – are usually kept under control and their appearance is scant while color and beauty radiates from each bordered bed, but this year the weeds find their home in bare places among withered and wind- whipped iris whose blooms have long passed with spring.

Last year’s drought, that tarried long into spring and still maintains a tight grip on the land, coupled with a hectic work schedule, left my flower beds sadly unattended and suffering.  This year I was certain things would be different, but although my work conditions have changed and I have more time at home, my flower beds still remain sadly unattended and I am thankful for the beauty to be found there despite my feeble efforts.

I have a friend who often reminds me that how we spend our money and how we spend our time points directly to our priorities and the things we value. I am saddened by the state of my flower beds, especially when I think about all the dear friends who have supplied my gardens with bulbs, seeds, and beautiful plants. As I kneel to gently finger a bright gladiola bloom, I am reminded once more of the precious friend who gave me the bulbs; when I rejoice in the beauty of my gardens I am reminded to pray for the friends that have shared their lives with me and I thank God for the living symbols of their beauty in my garden.

Gazing on my dry and shabby gardens, I am reminded that like my flowers, the relationships in my life need watered often if they are to flourish. Sometimes they need the gentle rain of mercy when my selfish heart feels overused or abandoned and I must remember that I have been the recipient far more often than the contributor. Sometimes I need to remember that there are seasons when some plants need to be nurtured more than others and that not all flowers bloom at the same time. In fact, I am so very thankful that my flowers bloom through many seasons, nurturing my life with beauty through the changing times. New blooms sometimes require more attention while they are establishing roots, and sometimes I find myself enamored with new blooms –especially when I’ve found a rare or special one.

But like my flowers I have many special friendships and the love for those whose lives intertwine mine with rich memories flows deep.  I am also abundantly blessed with a gracious and loving family that I often take for granted and there have been many times when I have been dismayed to discover I have neglected to thoroughly water and nurture those relationships. I do not always pay close attention and like weeds that seem to appear overnight, I am  dismayed to realize how long I have allowed neglect to choke or hinder the growth of my relationships.

Although I will never seem to be able to give the time my heart longs to give to the many beautiful relationships in my life, though I still may not stop to visit the sweet neighbor that lives just down the road and whose house I pass often, though I have yet to call the friend who lives two time zones away or take vegetables to a friend who is too busy to plant, I pray for them often and I have spent the extra time I hoped to give my gardens on other, more eternal flowers. I do not want my relationships to fill the margins of my life, but I want them to overflow the borders and boundaries I have built.  So when I look at my untended gardens it is not in sorrow or regret, I am thankful for  the friendships and relationships that I’ve tended and I pray for those with whom I don’t often connect but whose sweet smiles light my memories and whose names are whispered in my prayers.

Dear Father, I thank you again for the abundance of beautiful friends with which you have blessed me.  Please grant me the grace to water those things that are eternal.