January 5, 2021

Searching the Obvious

In the silence, I am in awe.

I walk the greenhouse with my friend Angie. She talks about the different flowers she has planted: bromeliads, Chinese hibiscus, chenille plants, lilies, and orchids. She tells me that these flowers are OK, but her favorite are the African violets. “They take more care, more time, and they are fragile,” she says as her prosthetic hand touches the leaves of a pink African violet she has called “Hope.” Hope. How perfect.

As the sun filters through the greenhouse, I help Angie check the labels on each of the African violet pots. These will soon be in a new home.

As I pull into the driveway, I am not certain what I will see. It’s been 13 months since I visited my friend Kathy. As I turn the engine off it seems like an invitation for memories to flood my mind. I remember. I remember finding Kathy in the surgical waiting room, her arm in a sling, bruises on her face, mumbling a prayer. I remember her tears as she told me her 14-year-old daughter, Angie, was in critical condition. I remember sobs as Kathy told me of the car accident, the drunk driver, and Angie’s ongoing surgery to try and save her left arm crushed by the impact. I remember the surgeon’s apologetic face. I remember Angie in the hospital bed asking “Why?” But nobody had answers.

A knock on my car window breaks me away from the past and returns me to the present. Angie. She smiles, and for a moment her resilience makes me forget she has ever suffered pain in her life.

“Come on!” she says. “I want to show you my greenhouse! Dad built it, but I’m in charge of the plants.”

I see Kathy at the door smiling and waving. Much has grown in this home in the past year.

Kathy and I sit at the kitchen table watching Angie and her father load two small crates of African violets into a minivan. As we watch, Kathy tells me that after the accident, when Angie came home, she sat in this very chair, at this very table, and for the first time in her life she was speechless. When words finally found her, her prayer was simple: “Dear God, she is Your daughter. Help us get through this.”

I look at Angie, laughing with her father, then calling to us inside. It’s time to go. It’s time to deliver flowers.

I ring the doorbell. Angie stands next to me holding Hope. I have been invited to participate in an activity that is now part of daily life: delivering flowers to homebound amputees. I hear footsteps coming to the door. Angie greets the woman at the door, then makes herself at home walking upstairs. She knows this family. “Shelly?” Angie calls as we turn the corner and enter the room.

The room is pink. It’s a child’s room! It’s a little girl’s room! Sitting on the bed is Shelly. I notice crutches next to her, and my heart breaks as I see Shelly’s bandages, her right leg amputated above the knee. Angie hugs Shelly and shares the gift: Hope. I smile as I hear Shelly squeal with joy. She is happy. Despite it all, she is happy.

I watch and listen as Angie talks with Shelly. This is more than a flower delivery. Angie explains how to care for the African violet, and I watch as she encourages Shelly to gently touch the leaves of Hope.

The room goes quiet for a moment, and in the silence I am in awe. I stand in awe amazed at all that God has done, from the healing of Angie, to the receptive heart of Shelly, to the creation of a flower. I welcome the peace of the Holy Spirit, knowing that God is watching.

As we drive to the next home, Angie tells me she has decided to go into physical therapy. It’s a fitting choice. She looks pensive for a moment and says: “I just hope it won’t cut into my time of delivering God’s flowers.”