Saturday, August 14, 2010


Zinnias are a blessing that keep turning up in my life. My most profound memory of them is years ago, the first time I served on a team to lead a three day retreat inside the prison. One of the guys, Ronald, reached over and gently touched the scarlet zinnia in the vase at the table. He looked at me and asked, “Are these real?” I wondered how long it had been since this man, incarcerate within high stone walls, had seen a fresh flower. We just held the retreat again a couple weeks ago, and another man seemed especially appreciative of the flowers. For years, a farmer friend of one of our team members has grown fields of zinnias and offers us all we want for the retreat. A bit of sacrificial love, shown to prisoners he’ll never meet.
Last summer, while helping to build a house in the Dominican Republic for a family, I saw some beautiful tropical flowers, but was most amazed at the zinnias growing near “our” house – along a rusting barbed wire fence. In a haunting way, they were beautiful with the shadow of barbed wire against the stucco house, .

Early this spring when I decided to start some seeds indoors for my garden – something I had never done before – among the seeds I chose were zinnias. Much to my amazement, they sprouted and I transplanted the plants near the fronts of two of the raised beds. They’ve done extraordinarily well – I’ve cut numerous bunches, which only encourages branching and more flowers. I expect to have zinnias until the frost unless the deer eat them.  Some of the plants are protected with a chicken wire cage, but the other bunch, in front of the tomatoes which have grown over my head against the back fence, are not covered.  I guess if I had a choice I'd tell the deer to eat those zinnias and leave my veggies alone!

My mother-in-law (see the “Gordon, Stop the Car!” entry on 6/21/10) has been painting flowers for weeks, in preparation for a sale at church. We made packaged sets of flower notecards, and my brother-in-law matted some of the paintings for sale. Paul helped set up a canopy tent and sat with her during the sale, which was quite successful. Apparently she’s turning in more than $200 to support her church. I bought one of her paintings – of zinnias!