Three years ago, during my first spring in Wilmington, I beheld a beautiful sight on my way to the church one morning.
On Truesdell Street was a hillside bursting with brilliant daffodils, narcissus, and jonquils. It seemed there were hundreds or even thousands of the golden beauties and a passage of Scripture from the Song of Solomon came to my mind, “For behold, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come.” (Song of Solomon 2:11-12)
The hillside was the epitome God’s glorious creation and my soul was indeed singing as I passed by.
As a gardener as well as a pastor, I thought to myself that although it was surely God’s creation, the Almighty must have had a little human help to create such a sight. Someone must have planted and maintained that hillside. What a labor of love it must have been!
Whom, I wondered, was responsible for this feast for the eyes. I filed that question away in my file of things I wanted to know about my new hometown.
It was not until this spring that I finally asked a church member and neighbor who was responsible this wondrous sight and the hillside full of flowers.
The hillside is a part of the home of Polly Wills. She and her late husband, Vernon, planted the flowers, beginning decades ago.
Recently, on a beautiful May afternoon, Polly told me how the story began and unfolded.
It seems that many years ago Polly and Vernon were visiting with Ruth Skimming at her home when she remarked that a clump of daffodils under a tree was not doing too well. She asked Vernon to dig them up for her, which he did.
Vernon asked her what she would like for him to do with the bulbs and she said he could just “get rid” of them. Not wanting to waste them, Vernon took them home and planted them.
They loved their new home and they truly thrived, multiplying and multiplying. Polly and Vernon separated them and began to spread them all over the hillside.
Each year new plantings and spreading plants added to their number until the brilliant array of flowers they have today became a reality.
Vernon told his family and friends that he wanted to create something lasting as a memorial. What an amazing memorial it is.
What a testament that hillside is to the faithfulness of God. Regardless of how severe the winter is, how hard the wind blows and how cold it may be in January, in the spring, the warmth of the sun brings the hillside to life again.
The flowers are the visible proof of God’s promise to renew in us a spirit of hope. As we read in the Psalms, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10)
This year spring has been late with cold, biting frosts and even snow. The flowers have had to withstand much and they do not appear as bright and brilliant as they have in past years.
So it is with our lives. We have seasons of struggle and hardship and we do not feel that we shine as brightly as we should. Our hope for the future is dimmed.
That is, until we remember the promise of God that he will always renew our spirit and set our souls singing. For no matter how dark and dreary the long winter of our distress is, God will always send the flowers in the spring.
We will find that the flowers of hope have actually multiplied over our soul’s long winter, ready to burst forth in the shining light of the Son of God.
With God, we can take heart that there will always be next sprint, when the flowers will appear on the earth.
Debbie Linville is Pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Wilmington.