For the things which are seen are temporary,
but the things which are not seen are eternal.
— 2 Corinthians 4:18b
I love tulip time. Aren’t the waves and splotches of color great, after a dreary winter? Tulips symbolize hope, because of the way the plain little tulip bulb miraculously shoots up out of nowhere to become a tall, green stalk with thick leaves and a gorgeous, showy flower. When you’re down in the dirt, buried under problems, remember: good times are going to blossom again soon!
Besides, a piece of my heart is lost among some very special tulips. Although, in the end, it’s not really lost at all.
Let me explain:
Every autumn, for years, I helped preschoolers at our church plant tulip bulbs. It was a learning experience for them, and made the foundation walls of our church look nice, too.
The little girls would name their bulb, cradle it, lay it in the hole, and “tuck it in” by gently smoothing the warm earth on top of it and patting it with exquisite tenderness.
In stark contrast, the little boys would HURL their bulb in like a hand grenade, and get 98% of the dirt on themselves.
I loved teaching children about nature. I used to go all out with little learning activities. So one fateful day while planting bulbs with the kids, I had pretended to be a gigantic butterfly. I clenched a straw between my teeth and plunged it into Kool-Aid to show how a butterfly sucks up nectar. I ran all over, flapping my arms, to their shrieks of delight.
I shoveled dirt, dug holes, pulled weeds, dumped trash, made a mess and had a ball. I drove home happy, and went inside to wash up. Lah de dah. Tra la. Scrub, scrub. And then my eyes riveted onto my third finger, left hand.
MY DIAMOND WAS GONE!
I placed my eyeballs one inch from the four empty prongs. They rebuked me. I knew I should have had those prongs checked, but never had. Lazy! Thoughtless! The diamond must have been shaken loose or sucked out during the gardening.
The diamond my Beloved had spent his last dime to buy! The diamond that had knocked the wind out of me so that I could only squeak, “Yes.” The diamond that symbolized our unending love and sparkling future . . . gone!
No, I hadn’t been wearing garden gloves that day. Who, me? Lazy, thoughtless Nature Girl?
I had been taking my diamond ring for granted, just as I took my husband and our marriage for granted. HE would have had those prongs checked on a quarterly basis, with a money-back guarantee.
I hated disappointing him. Maybe I could find it.
I bent over the sink. Not there. I pulled the plug out. Nope. I peered down the drain. If it had been there previously, the running water had pushed it halfway to the Missouri River by now. Tears streaming, I got down on the floor and crawled all over the bathroom, down the hall, out onto the sidewalk and into my car. No luck.
We were having our house painted that week. The painters were up on the roof, doubled over. “What a nut! Pretending she’s a dog!” Well, a doghouse made sense.
I retraced my route to church, even peering at the gravel on the side of the road. I do drive with my arm dangling out the side sometimes, you know. But no soap.
By now sobbing. I wandered around the 50,000 square feet where I’d romped. Like a bag lady, I pulled stuff out of the dumpster and pieced through it.
People joined the hunt. The pastor raked the flower beds. The organist checked the sidewalk. The preschool director walked the grass. Other mothers searched my car.
Defeated, I went home. Then my husband drove up after a hard day’s work. I ran to him, sobbing anew. I bowed my head and spilled the story.
His arm moved. Was he going to haul off and punch me? I braced.
But no. He was just putting his hand on my shoulder, and giving it a loving squeeze. “Don’t worry about it,” he said, with well-practiced compassion (he married a klutz). “It’s only a ‘thing.’ It can be replaced.”
Now I was really sobbing, this time for joy in my jewel of a husband. Despite my many faults, he loves me. That’s the truly priceless thing. It’s not something you can buy or wear, or even lose.
We replaced the diamond with the insurance, no big deal. He has never mentioned it again. I check my prongs, well, religiously now.
Over the years, though, I kept looking in those tulip beds, hoping for a huge miracle, that the diamond would be found.
But it hasn’t been.
That’s OK. God doesn’t often work that way. But He was working all the same, to plant a big truth in me:
Diamonds are forever. But true love lasts even longer than that. †
By Susan Darst Williams | www.RadiantBeams.org | Marriage | © 2020