Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Winged Valentines

The floral shop of the grocery store takes on a special wonder in the weeks before Mother’s Day. Flower arrangements and gift ideas of all sorts spring up in the shelves of the cooler and bloom on the display tables in that crowded section of the store. Special touches to simple potted plants give them an eye-catching beauty that turns a wandering shopper into a paying customer in just a matter of minutes. Simple things, like colorful helium-filled balloons tethered to blooming greenery by matching lengths of broad ribbon, sheets of bright tissue-paper-like plastic that add a splash or color to glass vases, and beautifully tied bows set off the wares in such a way that is sure to catch the eye and delight the soul of spring-starved shoppers walking by.

What got me were the butterflies.

Brilliantly colored artificial picks set in a flat pan of blooming miniature daffodils and blooming hyacinths, they looked for all the world like they had just landed there for a moment’s rest before flitting off to their next stop. I would have bought the arrangement based on the butterflies alone, and apparently the floral manager understood their pull, because she was soon placing them on plants of all sorts whose natural beauty was set off by these winged angels. Every time a customer came through my lie with such a decorated gift for a mother in their life, I’d catch the eye of my friend who was bagging for me at the end of my register, and she’d say, “I know. The butterflies.”

We had one such exchange even after Mother’s Day had passed when a shopper in front of me was purchasing three such decorated arrangements that were marked down because the blooms were passed the point of perfection.  Overhearing us, the customer looked at me inquisitively, and I laughingly explained to her that I had a weakness for the butterfly picks. She said, “You can have these three; I’m just going to throw them away. I only want the bulbs to plant in my garden for next year.” Insisting that I take them, she quickly pulled them off her purchase and gave them to me in exchange for the receipt I was holding out to her. Gratefully I thanked her and put them aside to take home with me at the end of the day. Already I could see them displayed in the flower pot planting that was soon to grace my front porch step.

Later that weekend I read a Facebook post by a man who was having a spiritual revival of sorts in his personal life. Raised in a Christian home and a pastor himself, he knew all about the love of God in his head…he just hadn’t felt it in his heart so much recently. Yet all of a sudden he discovered that God was reaching out to him in ways that were specific to him alone. He was inescapably drawn in by this love that was extended out to Him, and in his new found joy, he challenged his Facebook friends to look about them for the little ways in which God was speaking His love.

It didn’t take me long. Instantly my mind flew back to the butterflies who had winged their way so recently into my heart. Knowing the attraction they held for me, God made a way to give them to me through the actions of a good-hearted customer. His love expressed to each of us in a multitude of similar exchanges over time gradually binds our hearts to His so tightly that no future challenge is strong enough to ever rip them apart. But the process begins when we start to see and receive the little valentines He scatters throughout our days. 

Butterflies have absolutely filled my vision this past spring. I’ve seen them everywhere, on the printed fabric of shirts and purses, on necklaces and notepaper, even tattooed on necks. Each sighting is met with a smile and its message of love received, the discovery then dutifully recorded in my journal. It’s pages are full as a result, and so is my heart.

The Bible says that God gives us the desires of our hearts, and what more do any of us want on a continual basis but to know that we are loved? And so He responds, in a multitude of ways...to bless us, to be sure, but even more so in the hope that we will then turn and be a blessing to someone else. Those who receive love can’t help but give it away. But sometimes we have to see it before we can take it in to our love-starved souls. So look about you with new eyes for ways God might be waving His wings at you as He flutters by, receive with joy the butterfly kisses He plants in passing, and let your heart and life (and those of the people around you!) be changed forever as a result of the love that deliberately lands in your line of sight.

“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father in Heaven give good things to those who ask Him?”
(Matthew 7:11 MKJV)

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