After several years of teasing us, our mountain laurel delivered an impressive display this spring. The timing is significant with Mother’s Day, our anniversary, and Shawn’s birthday falling in a tight 2 week window. The plant is nestled in our wildflower garden and can be seen from the kitchen window or patio. We are oohing and aahing each morning as the little buds form, expand, and then explode in all their glory.
Shawn and I love returning from a romantic get-a-way with a new addition. We visit gardens and garden shops and if at all possible, purchase something we can grow at home. I think plants are more than a hobby for us, perhaps an obsession. Gardening time is together time, an important ingredient in our relationship.
Asheville, North Carolina, is one of our favorite destinations. Besides visiting Craggy Gardens on the Blue Ridge Parkway, we include another stop in every trip, BB Barns. BB Barns is a short drive south of town and offers an incredible selection of gardening delights. The folks are friendly and knowledgeable. The coffee is free. And the plant selections will make any serious gardener whimper with joy. Put BB Barns on your next Asheville travel itinerary. You won’t be sorry.
As we browsed the plants at BB Barns, Shawn had her eye on a white blooming mountain laurel. She is easy to please and does not ask for much. I can tell when her heart is yearning for something and Mounty the mountain laurel was on her list. Although I feared Raleigh would be too hot for his well-being, we adopted him and brought him home. Native mountain laurel grows in some parts of Raleigh. I have seen blooms in Eno River State Park, Umstead State Park, and Hemlock Bluffs. Perhaps Mounty would survive.
After the first season, Mounty looked droopy and unloved. I purchased a larger pot and changed his dirt. He stayed alive but never thrived. During the second season, with the new soil, Mounty had spurts of growth and squeezed out a couple of blooms. Joy abounded on the Nichols Plantation. I moved Mounty to a new location, nestled among the native honeysuckle bushes in our wildflower garden. I gave him full shade to see how he responded.
Earlier this year I was cleaning up winter debris and saw buds covering Mounty. I did not tell Shawn until I was sure Mounty would be showing his colors. He did not disappoint. He made it happen. Wow! What a gorgeous surprise!
Aren’t you glad God doesn’t pull us up by the roots and toss us into the compost heap when we disappoint Him? He is patient, longsuffering as the older versions of Scripture put it. God gives second and third chances. He adds nutrients to the soil of life, moves us to new locations, and patiently waits for us to bloom. I am so glad. Moses received this description of God on Mount Sinai:
“…The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in goodness and truth…”
The Psalmist David offered these words:
“But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.”
There are seasons in any marriage, ups and downs. Our world tells us to move on if the joy is missing. Perhaps we decide enough is enough and wonder if the flowers will ever appear. We may give up, not knowing the blooms are just around the corner. In a passage often quoted in weddings, Paul listed the characteristics of true love. Note what holds the top slot.
“Love is patient…”
I Corinthians 13:4
A strong marriage requires spouses to be patient, to offer forgiveness as often as is necessary, and to hope continuously. We don’t toss the relationship onto the compost heap. We stay at it and give it all we have, during ups and downs, all the while knowing the blooms will come.
Thank you, Shawn, for 32 years of loving, hoping, tending, caring and waiting on me to bloom. Thank you for your patience.
Happy anniversary, Love.