I am not the best gardener. No one would ever accuse me of having a green thumb, but thanks to my mom having multiple beautiful flower beds growing up, I have always had a love of the beauty of flowers. It would fill my heart with so much joy every spring when the flowers would start popping up through the dead leaves of last winter.
Thanks to being allowed to help her (in very small ways) in her garden, I started to learn the difference between annual flowers and perennial flowers. Annual flowers must be planted once and then they will bloom once. You have to go buy new seeds for the next year. On the other hand, perennial flowers get planted once and then they will bloom year after year. They’re the ones I see popping up through the remains of winter.
Even though both types of flowers are beautiful and a joy to look at, their priorities and how they use their energies are very different. Annual flowers, since they only bloom for one year, spend their energy on beautiful flowers that will last for a long time. This allows more time for their pollen to be spread, continuing its line. Although perennials have beautiful flowers also, they are often around for a much shorter time each year. That is because perennials spend their energy growing underground structures that allow them to adapt to living from one year to the next through a form of vegetative reproduction rather than seeding. These structures include bulbs, tubers, woody crowns, rhizomes, turions, woody stems, or crowns which allow them to survive periods of dormancy over cold or dry seasons; these structures typically store carbohydrates which are used once the dormancy period is over and new growth begins.
One interesting thing I learned when I was refreshing my knowledge of perennials was that their adaptive power is attributed to something called the meristem. It consists of undifferentiated cells (meristematic cells) capable of cell division. This means that it is not until the meristematic cells are needed that they differentiate into specific tissues or organs. Whatever that season requires of the plant, they are always there, always ready to serve however needed.
It's amazing to me that year after year these flowers come back just as beautiful as the year before. Oftentimes when something happens year after year, it begins to fade. It loses what was special about it, and even if it doesn’t, it might seem that way to us. Sometimes we can see something that is reliable and consistent as being boring.
This past Sunday was Easter Sunday, and now we are in the Easter season. At this point, you have celebrated many Easters over the years. When you were a kid, you were probably excited about the candy in your basket, whereas now, hopefully you are thinking more about the actual resurrection. Unfortunately, it can be hard to focus on the beauty of the Resurrection because as adults we were probably also thinking about getting our families to Mass, what we/they were going to wear, the party we were going to have, what we were going to cook for it, cleaning for it, etc. Even though we’ve grown and matured, there’s not a lot of room left to contemplate how magnificent the resurrection was. We’ve celebrated it before. We do it every year, actually at every Mass. We’ve heard the story; we get it… No. Stop. Have you taken time to stop this year and really think about it? This thing that happens every year. Does the fact that it’s perennial make it less beautiful, less important that our God went through agonizing torture and death in order to defeat sin and death just so that you could be with Him one day in heaven? He conquered DEATH, this thing that all of us fear. He rose from the dead, something that has never happened again. All of this He did for love of you, the greatest of all miracles for you.
I encourage you to take some time this week to think about that. Spend time in prayer reflecting on the beauty of that day, that miracle, this season. This season comes every year, but every year we are in a different place in our life, and so God might be trying to show us something new in the magnificence of this celebration. Just like the meristem, Easter might look a little different in this different season of your life, but it will always be there, always beautiful.
Just to remind you how beautiful something can be even when we have it every single year just like we always have, here’s a picture of my favorite perennial flowers, hyacinths. May they remind you of the beauty of the resurrection.