Nichole Collins MacMillan

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A Blog Post

Not a lily, but the message is the same…

ZinniaThis flower happened to me this week.

My kitchen window is lined with tiny glass vases. I like the way they catch the afternoon light even when they are empty.   One is a tiny Patron bottle that holds the story of a birthday celebration with a friend. Another is a tiny syrup bottle from Cracker Barrel and reminds me of a women’s Christmas luncheon in a church fellowship hall where a strong and kind woman set a table with her grandmother’s china and placed a syrup bottle with a rose bud at each plate. All of the tables were different and beautiful but hers mixed old and new, heirloom and ordinary in such an honest way that I HAD to sit there.

From my kitchen window I can see my tiny garden. This spring, I filled a sliver of our new yard with infant herbs, vegetables, roses, watermelons, and my favorite summer flowers. I was most excited about a new-to-me zinnia in a clean chartreuse shade. I couldn’t wait to put this tall variety in the back of my border.

But I overcommitted in my garden this summer. The strip we carved out just isn’t big enough for peppers, squash, zucchini, herbs, roses, watermelon, sunflowers, AND zinnias. I sacrificed the squash early on. It was rotting on the vine anyway. The tomatoes have claimed most of the space and provided me with the happiest of summer flavors. There are so many I’m thinking of setting up a booth at our farmer’s market. The watermelon was a late addition and is only there because my youngest absolutely loves it so much. It has wound its way through my zinnias and roses creating a lush mess, but it makes me and my son happy to see our favorites together so we are going with it for this year.

Because of all of the chaos that is my little garden, the chartreuse zinnia has not turned out to be the show-stopper I was hoping it would be. There have only been a few blooms and each seems to have a bit of rust on a leaf or a petal. From the kitchen window, I can barely see them.

This week, though, I went out to cut a few blooms to fill my kitchen window vases. There are pinks and yellows and oranges. I cut the one chartreuse one that looked pretty good.

Five little stems can change everything for me in the kitchen, but I wasn’t expecting the little green zinnia to steal my heart. In the midst of preparing dinner for our family, I turned to the sink to see the afternoon sun highlighting the little row of flowers. For the first time, I didn’t notice the imperfections of the zinnia. Instead, I saw all of the tiny little details that make up her beauty. In her center is a crown of stars – little blossoms within the blossom that are perfectly formed. Her two leaves spread from the arch of her stem like a dancer – or a child – spinning in the grass. She is reaching for the sun and opening herself as a gift to the world. And she is.

My little zinnia isn’t without flaws. She probably wouldn’t win a prize in a flower show (but when I put her picture on Facebook, she drew more praise than most anything else I posted that week). And she won’t be around forever. Her days in my kitchen window will be with me – I hope – for a long time. She called me to gratitude for sunlight, color, and shadow. She reminded me that each of us is so much more than our tiny imperfections. She moved me to praise the Maker who crowns each of his creations and fashions each of our beautiful, tiny parts. She beckons me to open my heart and share myself with the world. And she says simply, “Do not worry. Do not worry. Do not worry. The God who made me also made you. The God who knows even me also knows you. As you delight in my color, and shape, and the light on my face, so the One who made and knows and loves us both delights in you. Trust. Spin. Share. Shine.”

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