Wisdom//

This One Little Gesture Transformed the Way I Think About Change

Who knew a flower could mean so much?

By Olga Danylenko/Shutterstock
By Olga Danylenko/Shutterstock

By 2016, we lived in an old brick house in the middle of a small town in Pennsylvania. Even though we loved the house and the borough, we felt the urge to list the home. We didn’t have our eye on another home, but the call to my husband was loud and clear. I tried to ignore it (and him!) until it was clear to me too. I had a nagging feeling; like someone was waiting for it, like someone had sent a wish for a house like ours. The nagging was persistent. While we’d always known maybe we would sell it one day and move to a more rural location, and in some ways, back to our childhood roots and my dream of the fields, mountains, and the clearing, we listed and sold the home quickly. It seems someone maybe was waiting for it. While there were many things I was afraid I’d miss about that house—the emerald-green and canary-yellow stained-glass windows, the tiger-eye maple doors, or the walks with the kids to our favorite park or consignment shop—it might sound strange to say I was most worried about our lilac bush. 

During our first year in the house, my son and husband had bought me a lilac bush for Mother’s Day and planted it by the garage. We had a tiny yard, but in the four years we lived and loved there, the lilacs thrived and the bush was full. My husband promised he’d plant me new lilacs once we figured out where we’d land, so I knew I’d have lilacs again, someday. We moved after the lilacs bloomed in one last generous, holy purple show, all shades of lavender and amethyst. Leaving that house was hard, but leaving the lilacs was the hardest for me, somehow, the memory of tiny, three-year-old hands helping big ones plant the bush for me in an unmistakable display of love.

We bought our new home—the one we live in now—in midsummer and the blooms of spring were far gone. When I walked the house before we closed on it, I fell in love with the mountain views stretching out in front of the property. I did discover a small mountain stream and so much beautiful and lush green foliage, but I couldn’t tell what kind of flowers we’d have. I searched for a lilac bush, but I didn’t see one and I didn’t say anything. After all, I knew that one way or another, I’d have lilacs again. 

During our first spring, in a very overgrown flower bed to the left of our driveway, a lilac bush appeared through the brush, her blooms in brilliant purples, some so very deep they were almost maroon in color. I was elated at this single determined bush and happily cut a few blossoms for the counter. My lilacs had followed me to this place, the house on the hill, the place we’d bought in another complete act of trust. 

Later that week, the kids and I were out exploring. We walked out the front door, down the wide brick steps, and to the left. We hadn’t ventured too far yet because of all the brush and weeds—so much beauty, all overgrown. While we were out playing and exploring, we stumbled upon a big lilac bush, bigger than I’d ever seen. As it turns out, we have about twenty times as many lilacs at this home as we did at our previous home. Selling our home was hard on me and buying the house we’re in—one with so many needed projects—was a blessing, but also not easy. Some of the best things never seem to be easy, do they? As the kids and I picked lilacs and we continued to play outside, I just smelled them, all the while thinking about the leap we took into the unknown and in pursuit of a dream and a return to the lives we loved so much as children. I was worried about the move but saw all the blessings that had come with it. 

A year later, I was in the middle of a very full few weeks, and quite honestly, I’d been exhausted and battling anxiety and a three-day headache. I was out late, working, and when I came home, the house was dim and quiet; even my husband had fallen asleep. But there, on the counter, was a perfect vase of lilacs, cut and arranged for me by Matt. The smell of the lilacs hit me before I saw them, and the simple image of them reminded me that I was home with my people who know how much I adore lilacs. 

To me, it’s a powerful metaphor, a remarkable example in an ordinary object. It was a message to me, I think: Yes, Kara, it’s hard to change sometimes—leaving the metaphorical lilac houses. It’s hard to leave something we love and it’s oh so, so hard to follow the call. The nudge comes and we ignore it for fear of what could be in the future. I’ve done it, time and time again. But that night, in the still hush of the house, the scent of flowers refreshed my spirits and I could not imagine missing out on this life on the hill with these lilacs. These everywhere holy reminders come on the regular now that I can see them.

Taken from Everywhere Holy  by Kara Lawler. Copyright © 2019 by Kara Lawler. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson. (www.everywhereholy.com)

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