In my garden there is a very interesting plant, the Hibiscus Mutabilis. The common name in the south is Cotton Rose or Confederate Rose, but it’s a plant that originated in Asia and is on every continent but Antarctica.
Each year for the past three years I cut off all the branches when the leaves fall off in late Autumn until there is nothing but a couple inches of woody stem above the ground. In the Spring, I anxiously watch for little buds to poke out around those stems to see if it lived through the winter. All through the summer this plant grows, and each year it has grown bigger than the year before: it was close to 12 feet tall this year, just since the beginning of May! The fact that this plant resurrects itself to such great heights each year isn’t even the most amazing thing about it, but its blossoms are truly incredible. Most people have seen hibiscus blossoms, but these blossoms are doubles, so they are as big as your hand, full and frilly and white as snow when they open from their bud in the morning. Over the course of the day, they turn from white to a light pinkish around the edge at mid morning, to full pink at midday, to deep rose in the evening. Each bloom lasts only a day, but it is a glorious day.
The name for this plant in Latin means “changeable”. The changes occur based on temperature and a chemical reaction within the plant itself, but is not well studied or understood. This is very like human nature, where we are all basic human beings created in God’s image, but each of us is distinctly ourselves.
- Can we change over time like the plant?
- Can we resurrect our true selves after going through a metaphorical winter, becoming bigger and stronger?
- When we feel the heat, how do we react?
- Do we become more beautiful and resilient, able to hold our heads up and accept the changes?
The next time you are feeling afflicted by circumstances beyond your control, think of your changeability and your choices. It’s not about changing your true nature, but growing and adapting, learning and becoming more in tune with circumstances and needs in order to reflect Gods image not just for a glorious day like a flower, but for a lifetime.
“See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.“