On a weekend trip to Amsterdam a number of years ago my husband and I visited the Amsterdam Tulip Museum where they have a beautiful shop with equally beautiful products. Even those utterly unenthralled by flowers would find something to love about this shop! As we wondered around I found two things:
- Row upon row of amaryllis bulbs (my absolute favourite flowers)
- A glass amaryllis vase specifically for growing amaryllis flowers.
Needless to say I left that shop with both a vase and a bulb!
So it probably won’t surprise you if I tell you that my wedding bouquet was a bunch of amaryllis flowers. However, on the day I found out something out about the amaryllis that could have proved a bit of a spoiler for my day! Now, I’d like to start out by explaining that I wasn’t a complete bridzilla (I don’t think!) but as the day fast approached and preparations began to take their toll, it was with slight trepidation that my dad walked into my room on the morning of the wedding with my a box containing my bouquet in hand.
“I’ve got some bad news,” he said with a little frown on his face. “The flowers aren’t the right ones” as he dared to come a little closer. Ok, maybe a little bridzilla crept up my throat. “What do you mean?” I asked cautiously.
It turns out that amaryllis flowers are in fact a difficult flower to determine the colour of. The florist and I had spent a very (very) long time discussing the detail of the colour, and I had only been able to find one florist in the whole of London happy to make a bouquet of amaryllis (hence my dads nervous entrance). “They are still lovely he said, just not what you’d planned”. Thankfully I think the photo below speaks for itself!
They should have been red with a white centre but the colour had come out the other way around. However, they were even more amazing than the ones I had picked. I was totally delighted! What could have been a big disappointment (yes I know, a big first world disappointment but I was only 23!) turned out to be a beautiful delight.
Five weeks ago this amaryllis plant (feature photo) was a mere bulb in a little cardboard box. I had met a friend for coffee at a garden centre and as we were leaving I saw a shelf of amaryllis bulbs in their boxes in a little row. I’ve not had one for a few years now and as I picked one out I couldn’t wait to get home and put it in my vase. Not only is it still my favourite flower but it will always remind me that when things don’t turn out as expected, God often has a hand in making them even better than you had hoped.
Each day since then the children and I have positioned our new bulb in a good sunny spot in the kitchen and then carefully turned it each time it’s stem starts to bend too far towards the sun. Each night my husband comes home and the children get him to examine the progress the flower has made that day. Due to the heavy nature of the stem you have to be really careful to make sure it grows straight up, as one stem grows before the other meaning it can easily become lopsided, sometimes completely falling over! So you have to carefully turn it (again and again) so that it isn’t tilting.
Today I stood and marvelled at its beauty and how amazingly it’s turned out thanks to our careful love and attention. If I hadn’t bought it that day, if I hadn’t put it in it’s lovely vase, if I hadn’t changed its water and turned and manoeuvred it each day it would still be a bulb. It would have had all the potential of an amaryllis with nowhere to grow.
How many people out there do you think haven’t been picked off the shelf? Have had to stay in their box, in the dark, without the chance of flourishing? How many people got taken out of the box and put in water but then didn’t get turned in the sunlight each day? Didn’t have someone stopping them from tilting in the wrong direction? We are a world full of people full of potential, full of colour and full of beauty, but who so often don’t get given the love or the chance to flourish. This results in living alone in the dark or falling down where no one can reach them.
Let us not leave that amaryllis on the shelf. Let us look around each day and strive to find those bulbs in those dark boxes and pick them up and put them in the light. It’s never too late to put an amaryllis in water and it’s never too late to show a human love. And what the amaryllis shows us is that each one is different, each one is unique, each one is beautiful, often surprisingly so, often taking our breath away. People are the same but so much more so. It takes time, it takes hard work, it takes commitment, but then you get to stand back and marvel at the beauty you see.