Can I tell you a little secret?
I used to think that people who bought flowers were silly, shallow and frivolous.
"Why would they spend good money on something like that? Something that is going to die and they'll throw in the trash? Boy, it must be nice to be able to literally throw money away."
In my heart, I felt bitterness and distain toward "those people". I thought they were being irresponsible and impractical.
It was so strange. Here I was, an Art major who has an incredible appreciation for beauty, yet I couldn't get on board with flowers.
Oh, I grew them in my landscaping and even put some in my gardens, but they were practical, right? Their job was to make my landscaping look good. Or attract pollinators to the more important, more noble vegetable crops.
You know. The things you can actually eat, the things I thought would save the world.
For crying out loud, I thought, there are people STARVING and we're buying flowers?!? I began to look at all my purchases and feel guilty whenever I spent money on anything that I felt was an "indulgence" or something we didn't absolutely need for survival.
It was a hard way to live. I think I secretly wanted beauty, but felt guilty and shallow even admitting that I longed for it.
"We need more beauty in our lives."
Thank goodness for my dear husband. His crazy idea changed everything.
He came home from work one day and started searching on-line for these things called "dahlia tubers". At this time, neither one of us had ever heard of dahlias!
"What in the world are you doing?", I asked him.
"I'm going to buy some dahlia tubers. A friend at work showed me photos of the flowers and I want some." (Me thinking to myself: "Why are dudes talking about flowers at work?")
"What?!? You've never grown anything in your life! Why are you doing this? We don't have room for something silly like flowers - we need all our growing space for growing food. You know - stuff that is actually valuable."
He replied, "I know. But we need more beauty in our lives."
Those words have stuck with ever since. I couldn't deny that it was true.
For the past 5 years, we had been living in a construction zone of a house ("Oh, a fixer-upper farm house! That must be so fun!" No. It's not) and our slowly developing farm was always in a state of disarray. We had been living in ugliness for years and it was dragging us all down.
So, I reluctantly and grudgingly agreed to help him plant dahlias. Let's just say maybe I would have had a better attitude if he had decided to plant 10 dahlias... but noooooooooooo. He brought home 300 tubers ("I found a great deal at a garage sale!") and we proceeded with the labor intensive work of planting, me grumbling under my breath the whole time that I would rather be planting something we could eat (because we have to grow more food to save the world, right?).
Then late July rolled around and one day while I was surveying the dahlia patch, I saw a flash of color. I went over to investigate, and oh friends, I wish I had the words describe my reaction when I saw that first flower... but let's just say it was as if these hard scales fell away from my heart and underneath I discovered something soft, something tender, something vulnerable.
I actually gasped out loud and started crying looking at that beautiful flower. I felt so silly, but now I understood. I knew why people love flowers, why they need them like air. Why they have a desperate longing for beauty, goodness and wonder.
While it might sound dramatic to say that flowers changed my life, it's true.
I learned to slow down, to savor small joys and take the time to really "see".
I learned that my soul longs for beauty and goodness and wonder... and I should not be ashamed of that. God created me with those desires deep inside me and trying to fight against them was only making me miserable.
I learned that efficiency, productivity and achievement are not bad things, but they don't bring me true joy and contentment.
I learned to be more forgiving and gentle, and less judgmental and harsh. The flowers softened my rough edges, my hardness and created a new person.
They transformed me.
Sharing the Wonder
Imagine my joy and delight when people started stopping by our farm stand to buy the flowers and I discovered they felt the same way!
Friends, I don't know what it is, but strangers would tell me the most tender and heartbreaking stories while they were picking out their flowers. There is something about flowers that allows us to be open and real, to be vulnerable and soft.
I'm in awe of the power of beauty.
It fills me with such joy to know that the flowers we raise on our farm are helping others transform their lives as well. Whether they are buying for themselves or sharing them with a loved one, more and more lives are being blessed with beauty, goodness, love and wonder.
Beauty Will Save the World
Fyodor Dostoevsky said "Beauty will save the world" and after much thought and pondering, I think he's right.
Beauty is not shallow or frivolous, as I once thought. It has power to point us to goodness and truth, to compassion and tenderness.
We were specially designed to long for it, to desire it deep in our hearts. You know this. You've felt your heart literally ache at the sight of something beautiful, your chest swelling with tightness and that feeling like you might burst into a million pieces.
Beauty leads us toward it's ultimate source, our God, our Creator, who loved us SO MUCH that He gave us the gift of beauty. He didn't have to do that, but He did. It blows me away. It also speaks volumes about how God feels about beauty. If He thinks it's important, then we better pay attention.
Beauty fills us with a spirit of thankfulness, kindness, joy, love, peacefulness... all things this world desperately needs right now.
THAT is how beauty will save the world - by transforming us into people filled with compassion and love, people who will make this world a little kinder every day.
Go forth, friends, and make today a little bit brighter and more beautiful.
"Always begin with the beautiful. It leads you to the good, which leads you to the truth."
- Father Robert Barron