April is here and there are blossoms and buds everywhere we look! I have found myself looking at some of the season’s early blooms more closely. John Angle, our beloved groundskeeper and master gardener, planted around the campus with the intention of something being “in bloom” throughout the year. In mid-March, I noticed the Lenten Rose emerge on our grounds.
I first noticed it because it was able to withstand the cold temperatures while much of the campus was still in winter hibernation. I’m still growing in my knowledge of plants, so I didn’t know what it was and didn’t research to learn more. It wasn’t until I saw one of our third grade class’ pressed Lenten Roses that I really began to pay attention.
When pressed, I saw their beauty in new ways—how different they each were, how their colors were deep, yet gentle, and how they brought with them the promise of spring.
What are these Lenten Roses? They aren’t roses and why are they called “Lenten?”
In my research I found that these flowers are called hellebores, but they are commonly called “Lenten Roses” for two reasons: the flowers somewhat resemble a small single rose, and they bloom in early spring, when we celebrate Lent. What we see as flowers or petals are actually the sepals of the bloom; the flowers themselves are inconspicuous and unremarkable. The sepals serve to protect the flower. It is as though these multi-colored blooms are shouting the glory of the gift of Christ! They stand out in a barren landscape as a promise of eternal spring.
During this season of Lent and beyond, instead of focusing on the barren landscape of our own works and insufficiency, we can focus upon and contemplate the beautiful and unmerited love and grace of God in Christ.
The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our God.Isaiah 35:1-2, KJV
Let all who see our “blooms” see the glory of the Lord and the excellency of our God.
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”Galatians 2:20, ESV