For those of you (like me) who aren't 'garden enthusiasts', the title of this blog may confuse you.
Before September 2008, it would have confused me too, but now the bougainvillea has become one of my all-time favourite flowers.
It may not have the 'pop' like a gerbera - just a wispy collection of pink and white petals that bloom from a thorny vine - but it has a deeper significance.
There is a thriving shrub full of them in the guesthouse yard, and as the weather and climate fluctuate, the bougainvilleas flourish. They thrive in the Haitian heat, and despite the changes between the dry season and emerging rainy season, it just keeps growing. It withstands torrential downpours and month-long droughts. The unrelenting winds blow and the sunlight intensifies. Nevertheless, it blooms on. I am amazed at it's resilience. It reminds me of our verse today in devotions - 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 says 'We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed. We are perplexed, but we don't give up and quit. We are persecuted, but not abandoned. We are struck down, but not destroyed.
Bougavilleas never lose their colour either.
Last year for mothers day, the kids and I made pressed-flower bookmarks. We gathered flowers from a few different shrubs and gardens, collecting the brightest blossoms we could find. After pressing and drying them, the majority had faded significantly, and some we even had to throw out because despite their vivacious colour and scent on the vine, their brown texture cracked on contact after being in a textbook for a week. There was one exception though. Our faithful bougainvillea, despite being a little shrivelled from lack of moisture, still retained it's bright pink colour. We ended up using these flowers the most because they were the only ones that brought our bookmarks to life.
Recently, I've appreciated the bougainvillea shrub for a new reason. The plant is located close to a cement support beam that connects the metal gates around the guesthouse together. Over time, it has grown up the side of the wall on the inside yard where the teams eat their meals. In the past few months however, I have been pleasantly surprised to see the flowering bush spill over onto the other side of the gate. As displayed in the picture, you can see for yourself how this blooming plant hasn't let the gate stop it. It was first planted on the left side of the gate in the picture, however it has grown up and out and beyond, now overflowing to the other side. It has defied it's limits.
I think about my own life and the 'limits' I am tempted to be controlled by. Voices in my mind suppress the urge to break out of the mold. In order to stay 'safe', I accept things that I believe I can't change. I'm restrained by 'gates' that hold me back from true freedom.
This plant reminds me that there is more to life than staying within the limits. I want to seek after understanding and joy and love, and that means doing things that are out of the box and scary and 'different', but that's the kind of life that Jesus was talking about when he said he came to give life to the full.
Some of you may think I'm strange for finding such a connection in a simple flowering shrub, but it's been a consistent reminder to me every time I walk outside and see it bursting from the top of the gate. I want to live without the 'play it safe' restrictions that I easily convince myself of everyday. I don't want to be defined by the status quo. I want to sing and dance and give freely and love without expectation of getting something back. I want to spend it all.
I hope this flower challenges you to do the same.
... And for all you mom's out there, I'll be picking you a bouquet this weekend!
Happy Mother's Day! :)