Yesterday, as David and I were taking a bit of a walk around the neighborhood, we came upon a front lawn covered in dandelions. Now, I know that the dandelion is considered a pesky weed by those who spend a lot of time and money cultivating pristine landscapes, but…
You guys, dandelions make me smile.
I have many warm childhood memories of sitting on a grassy expanse of yard, surrounded by those little puffs of white on the dandelion stems. My friends and I spent many a lovely afternoon laying on the grass – reveling in the approach of spring – and pulling dandelions up so we could blow the seeds into the sky.
And, yes, this made my father crazy as the dandelions spread and their yellow heads popped up all over the lawn that somehow was a measure of success and class for him.
We did it anyway.
Those weed flowers called to us as we ran barefoot in the grass after a winter of forced confinement for our feet. My mom’s rule allowed me to forego shoes as soon as the grass began to turn green, and from that time until the return to school in the fall, shoes were worn only when going to church or the store.
We also loved to pick the yellow dandelions, hold them between thumb and forefinger, and then pop the heads off in an attempt to hit one another in the eye with them.
Don’t ask me to explain this.
Boredom can be the breeding ground for works of genius.
It can also inspire epic dandelion wars.
I taught my older children (the Big Three that are now 22, 20, and 19) about all the wonders of weeds as playthings. We spent a lot of time wandering, exploring the woods, camping, playing and just being outside, so there were plenty of opportunities for dandelion wars.
And dandelion wishes.
But David, our youngest by eight years, has grown up during a period of my life that has been full of surgeries, illness, long recoveries, diagnoses, lots of therapy, great loss, and a necessary shift in the way we live as a family. Unfortunately, this has meant less time outside for David.
And zero opportunities for learning about dandelions.
So the dandelion-covered lawn was a great curiosity for him.
I showed him how to pop the heads off (he thought that was ridiculous), and I showed him how to make a wish and blow the seeds off the stem (shhhhh.. don’t tell the neighbors).
He was fascinated. We both made wishes as white fluff floated all around us. It was a lovely moment.
As we walked back home, he said, “Mom, if I make a dandelion wish for coronavirus to go away, would that work?”
“No, buddy. That won’t work,” I replied with more than a hint of sadness.
“I wish it would work,” Davy replied.
“Me too, buddy.”
And then, after more silence than I like to admit (because I always have to fight pessimism before I can move into faith), I added, “But we can always pray.”
“Yeah. We can do that,” Davy agreed, and I could hear in his voice the sober acknowledgement of a truth that can be hard to swallow.
We can pray. We can ask God to miraculously take this pandemic away.
But God isn’t likely to do that.
Could He? Sure. History is full of accounts describing miraculous events.
So He could.
But history mostly shows us that in the midst of great suffering, God is near.
And that is actually the greatest miracle.
Many fellow sojourners in the Christian faith won’t agree with me here, and that’s okay. I don’t think we need to see eye-to-eye on this in order to both love and follow Jesus.
But for me, faith increases when I focus on my hope that He will meet me in my pain. And since faith is a gift from God, I figure He’s got a hand in that process.
So I’m going to continue to teach Davy, and model for all of my children – as well as for anyone else who cares to watch, that God is just as big when He helps me trust Him in my pain as He is when he takes that pain away.
I’m also going to continue making dandelion wishes – finding beauty and happiness in what is so often seen as flawed and unwanted.