Telling me to pay attention. The Universe is speaking.
Starring the close of each year and darkest, darkest night, the Poinsettia’s striking winter appearance hails worldwide wishes of generosity and good cheer.
Rooted around miracles and the power of love, Mexican legend paints a heartwarming story around the Poinsettia. While details vary, it’s essentially about a meager child having nothing to offer the baby Jesus except some roadside weeds. Once placed on the Christmas Eve altar, however, they miraculously transformed into brilliant red and green flowers. Can you imagine witnessing the unfolding of such beauty, like the ugly duckling turned swan, or springtime buds bursting into bloom? You know, it’s how your heart feels when overflowing with love. How you feel when giving (or receiving) from the heart.
Exemplifying the giving season, Poinsettias achieved stardom once sold under the botanical name Euphorbia Pulcherrima. Nearly 70 million plants now sell from Thanksgiving to Christmas, generating $250 million in sales.
The Poinsettia garners its name for world traveler, botanist and diplomat, Joel Roberts Poinsett. He introduced the plant to the U.S. in the early 1800s after falling in love with it near Taxco Mexico.
Today, more than 100 varieties of Poinsettias range from burgundy to red, salmon to apricot, yellow to cream and white, and solid to marbled, not to mention the dyed blue and purple ones or those speckled with glitter.
The United States commemorates December 12th, the date of Poinsett’s death, as National Poinsettia Day.
As much as I love gardening, and can rarely bear discarding any broken plant stems (several cuttings are rooting on my windowsill now), I admit I never gave Poinsettia’s their proper care. Sure, I didn’t toss them after the holidays when their bracts (often called flowers) fell, and a few hung around awhile as green house plants, but I didn’t keep them in total darkness so they would turn red for the holidays next year — a process Certified Nursery Consultant, Rick LaVasseur calls photoperiodism. A process I call a miracle if I remember to do it.
Also known as the Christmas Eve Flower or Flowers of the Holy Night, some Christians symbolize the plant’s shape as the Star of Bethlehem which guided the Wise Men to Jesus, and the red color as the blood of Christ.
The meaning of the Pointsettia reflects standard Christmas and New Year wishes for Joy, Love and Hope – my universal wish for the coming year.
God gave me a memory so that I may have roses in December. But, I have the Poinsettia too.
A surprise view from my kitchen window…
may bring another surprise
of baby chicks…
The calendar indicates today is “Palm Sunday.“ Being a religious holiday, I often wondered in my youth why it wasn’t called “Psalm Sunday” but as a gardener I’m just as happy to see green palms after a long, grey winter.
And while it’s (sadly) becoming increasingly unpopular and even dangerous to identify with any religious affiliation, I will say organized religion is not the source of my spirituality. Yes, I was baptized and confirmed a Christian, but I also practiced Buddhism in my teens, then investigated Catholicism, Judaism, Unity New Thought and A Course in Miracles doctrines. I have friends of all faiths and of no faith. I pass no judgment if someone chooses to be religious or not, or the path they have taken to their own spirituality. What I do have a problem with, though, are acts of cruelty, hate, torture or killing — evil, in the name of religion or God. So contrary and senseless to me.
Thankfully, I was not raised to believe in a condemning and punishing God but instead one as loving protector. Studying Taoism and working in nature have deepened my understanding of life and some of the religious teachings of my youth. To me, all of these sources are akin to tendrils of a plant, offering various meanings and interpretations of life, expanding with my maturity.
As a variety of flowers constitute my garden, and a variety of races and ethnicities constitute the world, I am open to a variety of religions in life. I do not believe that one religion has all the answers, or that only one particular religion has the only true God. I believe there are as many spiritual roads to God as there are in the names we choose to call Him or Her or whatever is meaningful to the particular person in that particular part of the world. Opening my mind opens my heart.
And so, today is “Psalm” Sunday for me — spiritual being synonymous with psalm, and psalm being a sacred song. I acknowledge this day not in blasphemy but in honor of the sacred songs each of us carries in our hearts. As a gardener, I view this day as the triumphant arrival of Spring, a fresh start after a long winter, the Pre-Easter beginning of infinite life, and with gratitude for the richness Mother Nature offers. I believe God is everywhere as in nature, but also in our hearts. And in the end, isn’t that all that really matters — what is in our hearts?
“…Every day something new
Open mind for a different view
And nothing else matters…”
No words needed…