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Friday, June 15, 2007

Bleeding Hearts and Bluebells

Once again, Sarah over at Just Another Day of Catholic Pondering has inspired me. She is SO GOOD at that!

She posted these beautiful photos of bluebells and bleeding heart flowers recently, and it makes me wax nostalgic. (Like that's hard for me.)

Until I was ten, I lived in the Rock River valley in Illinois. We had a rambler in a little rural neighborhood in view of the river. Our acre lot was bordered, near the house, by a fence to separate our yard from the neighbor's and another neighbor's garden..and up against the fence we had a raspberry bush, a lilac bush, bluebells, irises, and bleeding hearts.

I'm not sure when exactly I became aware of the flowers and fruit that graced our yard, but I do remember that it all came into my radar all at once.

First it was the lilacs; they were so fragrant, and so fleeting, although as I've gotten older I've realized exactly HOW fleeting are those blooms, and I love them that much more for their brevity. They must be loved intensely to make up for their temporary presence in scent and beauty. There is a spiritual lesson in that, isn't there? In God's eyes, our own lives are even more fleeting, even more unique, and he loves us far more intensely, yet he has given us these little examples of life in the Garden we shunned through Adam and Eve. I fully believe that in Eden, these blossoms were eternal.

Then the irises; I became fascinated by their purply-blue color and yellow centers, and I remember picking one to bring to my neighbor, Ethel, whom I loved dearly. I was a shy child, but she had the ability to make anyone feel comfortable, and she rewarded my bravado in visiting her with a piece of candy. So I picked flowers and gave them to her in exchange for her loyalty and her sweets. It was she who helped me identify the mysterious beauty in our back yard. I think that on one occasion, she walked around the little flower garden with me, waiting for me to ask the questions, answering them to the best of her ability.

The Irises were next to the Bluebells, and I knew as soon as she said the word where they got their name. I loved the curve of the stem, the delicate curvature of the "bell" and the tiny little "clapper" that jutted outward for the bees. I wondered if they would really ring if we shook them. They fascinated me.

But my favorite flower of all favorite flowers at the time was...the Bleeding Heart. For those unfamiliar with this flower, they grow on a bush and hang in a row, like little hearts, their literal shape, appearing to be dripping from the bottom.

I especially liked to gaze upon those flowers when I was sad, or happy, or experiencing any intense emotion, because they seemed to contain it all.

My Mom had a devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, so whenever I saw the bleeding hearts in the back yard, I was seeing Jesus and Mary, but especially Jesus, for his Sacred Heart was on our family Bible. When I saw Bleeding Hearts, I saw God's love, and I took those flowers so personally!

Sadly, I do not have a green thumb, and my complete inability to keep plants alive makes me appreciate God's creation that much more, for I know that where I fail, God is perfected, so I am content to simply allow creation to bloom around me.

Spring is such a beautiful, transient time of year; we are now in the lull, the limbo between spring and summer in Minnesota. The early blooms have withered away, and the summer blooms are only beginning to take place, but there are none so beautiful to me as those precious flowers of my childhood, the ones that captured my heart so long ago, remain with me today, even if I can enjoy them only in photos.


Cathy_of_Alex said...

Beautiful post. I love the Bleeding Heart plant. Ironically, just the other day, I was considering putting one in my front garden. I did not make the connection to the Sacred Heart until your post.

Sometimes, I remain a spiritual dunce.

Anonymous said...

Lovely--you write so beautifully!

cathy...count me a spiritual dunce too--I will never look at the flowers the same again.

There is nothing like enveloping yourself in God's creation to make your spirits soar! When I feel really bad, depressed, I go into God's creation--away from everyone and contemplate how God created everything--including me--everything is so different, and everything has it's own beauty--it's healing--makes you feel so close to God.

I wish I could send you some beautiful bleeding hearts today.

Melody K said...

I love the old-fashioned flowers! Like you, I don't have a green thumb, however I do better with perennials that kind of take care of themselves. I read that columbine is a symbol of the Holy Spirit, and it seems like mine is nearly always in bloom for Pentecost. It certainly isn't because I give it a lot of TLC!
If I remember right, bleeding heart likes shade, which we have plenty of; maybe I should plant some. I like the Sacred Heart imagery.

Fr. V said...

I am HORRIBLE at calendars - but I can tell when someones birthday is coming up or some such thing by what flowers are blooming. I see Irises blooming and think, "Oh man! My sister's birthday must be coming up, I better go shopping."

Adoro said...

Amazing, how many people love those flowers!

And Fr. V., you're not alone. I'm horrible with birthdays.

I never thought of associating them with plants and flowers...must file that thought away to be used later...