Flowers In Winter

A week or so ago I got onto a train going from Pennsylvania to Boston, on my way home from visiting my father. There were hardly any seats available as I walked along, but finally I spotted an open seat next to a woman. “Is anyone sitting there?” “Oh no, please, have a seat.” So after I sat down, we began to chat a little.

“Are you going to work?” I asked. “No,” she replied, “there’s a flower show in Philadelphia that I’m going to. I’m an artist.” Someone looking for flowers in winter, huh? So I paid a little close attention.

So we found out that I have been an engineer and am in the seminary, and that she was in engineering drafting and now uses her detailed skills in her art. She told me about all the fine, hidden details she includes in her art. I said, “It’s like you still use your drafting skills. You’ve redeemed them.”

After a while chatting, she begins to tell me about the project she and her husband, another engineer of course, have been working on. “We grow vegetables in winter.” What? “Yes, we grow them in our basement.” Then she proceeded to tell me what they do with styrofoam cups and pvc piping and seeds and water pumps and ph-level sensors and fans, and, a whole lot of cast off parts and components that other people don’t want. So, what happens? “We have fresh lettuce, basil, parsley, tomatoes … in the middle of winter.”

And then she said, “We use all the things that people have used to grow pot in hiding. We’ve redeemed them!” She laughed about it and said, “All because my husband is a geek!”

A miracle.

Jesus is a redeemer. This qualified Him to enter into the darkness called the Cross. Most of His Passion occurred in hiding. Why? Because it was illegal. They seized him under the cover at night, they put Him in prison unbeknownst to the public, they rushed through a secret, illegal trial the next morning that didn’t include the necessary agreement of witnesses. When he was crowned with thorns, it was done in hiding, and when Pilate had Him scourged and crucified in a matter of hours, it was so that his own bosses would never know about the whole thing.

It seemed like everything was going to pot. But the world was being saved. The misery of Jesus’ Passion has become the fountain of new life for billions of people. It is a miracle. All because Jesus is a redeemer.

When we look around, it can seem like there are a lot of things in our society and culture that drag people down, right? When you look at the news, it can seem like society is going to pot.

But God is looking for someone who will labor with Him, who doesn’t believe the popular voices and all the naysayers that say that things are going to pot, someone who will be willing to go into the darkness and find a use for those things that most people want hidden, someone who wants to be a part of a miracle of God’s Mercy.

There is one thing that qualifies you for it:

You have to be a redeemer.

You have to look for flowers in winter.

“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. The wild beasts will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches; for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise.” (Is 43:18-21)

Have a Blessed Lent!


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