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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "Make Hay While the Sun Shines" (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (03/06/08)

TITLE: Touching Trillium
By Emily Gibson


Spring is in full swing here on our farm and I know there are simply not enough hours in the day for all that must be accomplished. Grass is growing so fast that mowing once a week is not sufficient, garden mounds need tilling and planting, the flowering plums and cherries bloomed before we could get the pruning shears out, the daffodils and the tulips are coming up fast amidst weeds. At times I feel so overwhelmed by the accelerated pace of growth and activity that I sheepishly long for the dark quiet gray days of winter when demands of the day could be postponed for a quick nap.

Instead of a nap today and instead of doing what the farm needs, I go hunting for trillium. They are the traditional harbinger of spring and without them, it all seems like just so much pretending. These are somber plants that will only grow in certain conditions of woods and shade, with leafy mulched soil. Once established, they reliably spring up from their bulbs every spring with their rich green trio of leaves on each stem that are at once soft and slightly shimmery, and at the top the purest of three white petals, one per leaf cluster. The blossoms last a week or two, then turn purplish and fade away, followed weeks later by the fading of the foliage, not to spring again from the soil until the following year. Picking a trillium blossom necessitates picking the leaf foliage beneath it, and that in turn destroys the bulb's ability to nourish and regenerate, and the plant never forms again. I think I have known this from my earliest childhood days as I was a compulsive wildflower gatherer as a little kid, having devastated more than my share of trillium bulbs until I learned the awful truth of the damage I had done. I have since treated them as sacrosanct and untouchable and have taught that respect in my children.

There are still a few trillium blossoms to be found on our farm, steadfast survivors despite a few insensitive harvesters over the years, yet still vulnerable to someone's impulse to bring the beauty indoors for a few days in a vase. What a tenuous grip on life when people desire to pluck them, with their resulting oblivion. How unknowingly destructive we are in our blind selfish pursuit of beauty for our own pleasure and purposes. These pure triad blossoms and leaves, representing all that is preciously drawn from the earth and enriched and nourished by sunlight, can be obliterated, never to return, never to bloom, never to rise again from the dust.

So how much more precious is that which rises again to bloom and flourish forever despite our senseless destructiveness? And He is here, among us, waiting for us, forgiving us for what we have done, for what we have not done, for our unthinking haste.

Trillium have been legendary symbols representing the Holy Trinity of Father, Son and Spirit and I'm reminded of that analogy as our family and larger church family enter Holy Week leading to Easter. We prepare ourselves and our farm for the coming week's events—Palm Sunday services followed by our church's Thursday evening Bread and Soup supper with communion, with the darkening Tenebrae service Good Friday evening to meditate on the last words of Jesus from the Cross, followed by an overnight vigil around a bonfire on our farm on Saturday night while we "watch and wait" for the risen Lord. Early Sunday morning our neighborhood community meets on our hilltop to celebrate the resurrection of Christ. We are touched and stricken anew, year after year. We are reminded of our need of the Son, our reminder of His work on earth preparing us for the fruits of glory in heaven.

I look at the trillium longingly, wanting to touch them, wanting to own them and hold them, and knowing I cannot, must not, and never will. Instead, with far more longing and gratitude, I watch and wait for our Lord, knowing He is here, He is now, He is everlasting.

I am rooted in the everlasting soil of life, thriving, fragile, forgiven.

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This article has been read 823 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Amy Clark03/14/08
As a new participant in the Faithwriters' website, I'm delighted to discover another nature lover who writes. The beauty of nature inspires and illuminates spiritual truths for me as it obviously does for you, also. I deeply appreciate you bringing forth a truth about Trillium, my grandmother's favorite flower, which I didn't know. I especially enjoyed your details about the setting in which Trillium grows. Imagining listening to my pastor read your piece took me to one of my favorite places, a peaceful spring woodland glen. Now, I will recall the image of a Trillium when I remember Christ's tender sacrifice.
Patty Wysong03/14/08
I never knew that! I'm going to pull out my herb books and see if that spring flower I love is trillium. Thank you for telling us about this!
K. J. Cash03/14/08
All of nature tells of the glory of God!
Judy Bowers03/16/08
Oh, I think I know who wrote this and I love your farm stories. It's the yellow (not white) trillium that blooms on our farm each spring, but much later than Holy Week. Yes, Alleluia! (after Tenebrae, that is).
Jan Ackerson 03/16/08
I love trillium, too--as a child, I horrified my mother by bringing her a huge bunch of them, picked from nearby woods (it's illegal in Michigan).

Your last sentence is magnificent.
Shelley Ledfors 03/16/08
I, too, love trillium. Maybe someone should make it a project to find and put warning labels by them! :-) I am sure that many of us have innocently led to the demise of a clump somewhere. I know I, too, picked some (thankfully only once) before I was told of this trait. Lovely story and great message!
Debbie Wistrom03/17/08
Keep writing about nature and your farm!! Your observations and tie in to topic is excellent,I could read a book of these precious reminders.
Sara Harricharan 03/19/08
This is great! I like the nature touch and the fact that this could even be a devotional! It was light and down to earth and I loved learning more about the Trillium flower-I've never even heard about this, but this story made me want to see one. Grea job! ^_^