MY ZINNIA WORLD
I was blessed with abundant colors during my childhood. The colors included cotton and silken fabrics, soft newborn kittens, and the beautiful variations of a person’s skin.
My favorite was zinnias. I discovered this flower species covering the front yard of the elderly woman who lived across the street from my grandparents in a small Louisiana town where my grandfather was the only doctor. I watched the woman care for zinnias the same way my grandfather cared for patients, with wisdom and compassion to ensure survival. Each flower was equally important and precious to the elderly woman, as were my grandfather’s patients to him.
The zinnias displayed a myriad of colors and held their heads straight, proud and tall on stems that seemed too fragile to support the sticky leaves crowned by pastel and brightly colored flower petals. I believed they were beautiful and had personalities. I believed the zinnias would listen to my endless childhood conversations with them. I imagined they provided shelter for tiny fairies or elves, keeping them shaded from the scorching sun that was heavy in the afternoons.
Ritually, I grow zinnias in my sunny, humid Louisiana world. These royal blooms begin as seedlings, miraculously blooming into a parade of colors. The flowers stand strong and in splendor, languishing in the heat, thriving nonetheless. Each zinnia has claim to its place in my backyard, just as people are meant to have space in this world to thrive and grow in community.
I believe these beautiful figures represent God’s imagination revealed on earth. These flowers insist I stop to realize life is fragile, there is magic in this world and are evidence of God’s creative power. They continually invite and teach me to bring color, light, and fellowship into my world. They are my reminders of imagination and a gentle world lost in everyday life, encouraging me to simply exist.
These miraculous creations of God, unique and proud, lean on each other, allowing weaker zinnias to wrap around the stronger flowers, embracing each other for strength and assistance in reaching the nourishment of the sun. My daily life is similar to the zinnias. I depend on fellow mankind to lift me to light, physically and spiritually. The taller and stronger zinnias seem to flourish even more when rendering selfless aid to the smaller and struggling flowers. I believe these bright flowers elicit my attention and mentor of unselfish sharing.
This I know – zinnias carry messages in their leaves and bright petals. Their colors shine best when they are nurtured, share light with each other, frequently leaning on each other for support. Zinnias are not simply southern summer flowers. They are messengers of the fragility in life, lifting faces to the sun with gratitude for each new day after bowing to the night. They are representatives of God’s creativity and compassion, reminders that I am no less a brilliant creation – a mixture of weak and strong, a melting pot of bright, beautiful color with a promise of continued blessings and childhood fascination.
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