Listen To: Pentatonix "Mary Did You Know?"
Walking out the door this morning to walk the dogs, I spotted a sight that left me momentarily speechless. Here in the cold weather of December, while not yet officially winter, I spotted not one but two dandelions triumphantly poking their heads out of the ground at us. I don't remember ever seeing this before, although I have since learned it's not totally unheard of. Dandelions are quite the hardy plant! However I asked myself:
Was this the result of climate change?
Some super-mutated dandelion strain populating our lawn?
I looked at the pair, my heart felt a surge of warmth, and the Holy Spirit began to talk to me about a number of things. From how life triumphs in adverse situations. How God chooses the lowliest of creatures to spread his glory. How important it is to stay alert and observant in this busy season because it’s easy to overlook the simple dandelion which God has chosen to carry a message of grace and joy to us.
Poor dandelion. It’s the “Rose E’er Blooming,” a late 16th century carol thought to allude to both Mary and Jesus, that’s exalted during this season. Everyone’s busy buying poinsettias and any plant in a red, green or white palate. So why on earth would this yellow dandelion pop up to mess up our color scheme? Maybe our palate needs some messing with in order to get ready to prepare our hearts for Jesus – who is color blind to our decorating plans by the way. Jesus is more concerned about our spiritual palate than our decorating palate.
Our little dandelion, it turns out, is a powerful healing plant. While some many consider it an ordinary weed of little use, settlers carried the plant with them for its many well-established medicinal purposes. It is hardy and its leaves can survive tough weather. Its roots dig in and it’s nearly impossible to remove a dandelion plant.
When the flower turns to the white seed which we as children enjoy making a wish and blowing or waving into the wind – for centuries cultures have associated this humble flower with the art of letting go and new beginnings, to happiness, faithfulness, and hope. Christians have seen in this the disseminating of the teachings of Jesus, the transitory nature of life, and the bitter leaves (which are edible and delicious in salads) to the passion of Christ.
I see my little dandelion and I am reminded of the Christmas story. Grace comes out of nowhere and when you least expect it. Mary didn’t expect Angel Gabriel to appear. Joseph didn’t expect a dream. Together they didn’t expect to be turned away at the Inn and put up at a stable. The shepherds didn’t expect to find “tidings of Great Joy” in that baby boy child in a stable. Mary and Joseph didn’t expect to flee Herod’s wrath and go to Egypt. And so it goes. Christmas is so much more about the unexpected than what we expect.
My little dandelion reminded me this morning of this. I didn't expect it but there it was. It said: Let go of the old ways of seeing things. Let God show you some yellow. Let God give you a different spiritual palate this season.
Be a dandelion. Be a healer. Be strong in tough situations. Don't be afraid to stand out. Dig in when the going is adverse and hang in there. Spread the Good News. Spread happiness and joy. Wish again. Dream again - like you did as a kid blowing dandelion seeds. Let go of what is holding you down. Be open to the new. Don't be afraid to wear yellow when everyone else is wearing red. Treasure life. Eat your greens. Expect the unexpected. Realize you are not so ordinary after all.
That's the parable of the dandelion.
Now we can get ready for Christmas -- thanks to the dandelion.
Prayer: “God Ever Blooming, seed our hearts with your love, kindness, and compassion – your full spiritual palate, so we may richly display your Christmas colors to all whose path we cross. Amen.”