by Chris Koellhoffer, IHM February 12, 2023
Perhaps you know the feeling. For me, here in the Northern hemisphere in February, it manifests as an overwhelming desire to see something blooming, some living being that’s not merely displaying its greenery, but wildly, extravagantly, colorfully flowering. By now, gone are my fuchsia Christmas cactus, purple or lavender African violets, deep red-and-white-edged-with-pink amaryllis. They delighted me in stages from November up until January’s end. Now they are dormant and resting and empty of buds.
And I get that, I do. As their roommate, and especially as a writer, I understand the utter exhaustion that follows weeks of creative growth and inspiration. But I find that living through flowerless seasons grows increasingly difficult as the outer world lacks living color. I wonder if the inner world is also dormant or if this near constant desire for blooming in February is somehow connected to hope.
When I turn on the news or check my email, the images I see are largely absent anything resembling flowering. My heart aches at the growing count of lives lost in the horrific earthquake that killed thousands in Turkey and Syria, including hundreds of already battered and broken Syrian refugees who saw Turkey as the place that would shelter them from danger. No blooming. My heart aches over the growing divisions in my own country that express themselves in acts of hatred, racism, refusal to accept differences. No blooming. My heart aches over yet another school shooting, snatching tender lives to gun violence. No blooming.
But my times of prayer reveal that I’m overlooking the flowering of the spirit unfolding all around me. The White Hats in Turkey dig with shovels and bare hands in a desperate search for the living buried under rubble, each miraculous find exploding in cheers and hugs. Flowering hope. Members of Sandy Hook Promise turn the tragic deaths of their little ones and teachers into an urgent advocacy to protect children from gun violence and prevent tragedies. Flowering hope. A stranger with a desire to express peace for Ukraine in an artistic way asks for permission to use the Prayer for Peace I wrote as an accompaniment to bracelets she makes so her creations can inspire others to pray for peace in Ukraine. Flowering hope. The IHM EarthCARE committee meets each month to pray and work to restore our land, cultivating native species of trees and plants that then invite native birds and other inhabitants to again return home to the land we share. Flowering hope. The list is long.
Whether you live in the northern hemisphere where winter has a grip, or you live in the southern hemisphere where a riot of colors is in bloom, today might hold an invitation to explore fresh ways of growing the spirit of compassion and welcome. What flowering do you long for in your life? What is the Holy One coaxing to bloom in you?
Sit in stillness with the Holy One.
Place before you a flowering plant or a photo of one.
Reflect on all the elements (water, sun, etc.) that came together to bring this plant to a time of blooming.
What flowering do you long for in your life?
What might be needed to bring something to bloom in yourself?
What is the Holy One coaxing to blossom in you?
Ask for the fullness of flowering.
Featured Image: Chris Koellhoffer, my last blossoming African Violet
I wish every blessing of love and compassion to you this Valentine’s Day.
May Ash Wednesday hold an invitation to work towards the fullness of blossoming for yourself and for our beautiful yet wounded world.
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5 thoughts on “Longing for Bloom”
Thank you so much for this very timely, thoughtful message.
Eileen translated your prayer for Ukraine into Spanish Chris and we pray it every morning-and on Sunday in English!!I have to stay here in Sicuani today for my retreat as there is no transportation back from Cusco.I will place an unusual plant that started in the pot of another plant and is now flowering.before me as I pray during the week.
Wonderful reflection as always. Thanks for sharing your gift, Chris.
I recently gave a good friend a small daffodil with only 3 tiny blooms. She is going through a rough time as her husband’s care giver and I hoped this tiny plant might help here in the middle of winter in the middle of the country. She sent me a picture of the plant 2 days later with an abundance of beautiful yellow flowers, telling me how much hope this plant gave her. Thanks, God (again!)
Sr. Chris. Thank you for your beautiful message. I was getting depressed with all the grays and I read your beautiful words I looked over to my cactus plant and a tiny fushia bud was there among the green. It gives me hope that God is still here for us even in this time of grayness.