Two years ago I first noticed them: a bright spot on my morning’s commute to work, a sturdy bunch of orange-gold California poppies growing in a triangle of gravel at the entrance to the 110 freeway.
I appreciated them so much that one day, while stopped at the stop sign with no one behind me, I delayed my journey by taking a couple of photos out the car window. I was in awe of the flowers’ resilience. My goodness, how could they manage to grow in that bleak spot? I thought about them throughout the year, long after they were gone, and rejoiced at their return the following spring. They reminded me of a plaque I had hung in my college dorm room decades ago: “Bloom where you are planted.”
I wondered if there might be a Biblical parallel, something that gave deeper meaning to the phrase. What came to mind was, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). That certainly fit how those flowers were shining above the grit, inspiring me to be aware of God’s ever-presence, and reminding me to glorify Him.
Thinking further about “bloom where you are planted,” I noted that the word bloom is a verb that denotes growing, opening, maturing, and thriving—indicating that it’s not about simply surviving. So is blooming still possible if we feel our current situation is stifling our growth and progress? I found an answer in Mary Baker Eddy’s statement from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: “The very circumstance, which your suffering sense deems wrathful and afflictive, Love can make an angel entertained unawares” (p. 574).
When we are distressed about our circumstances, it may seem difficult to identify anything good going on or to hear God’s angel messages. However, I have found that when I truly surrender my sense of the problem to divine Love, and when I am consciously present with Love and truly listening to God, messages of hope break through, bringing guidance and spiritual growth.
Nothing can postpone our blossoming.
When I considered the word planted, this woke me up to the significance of being placed where we can thrive and bless, which counters any sense of randomness in God’s kingdom. A verse in Second Corinthians captures the essence of this idea, and I appreciate how the Amplified Bible states it: “Thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us spreads and makes evident everywhere the sweet fragrance of the knowledge of Him” (2:14).
Since, as God’s reflection, we are God-impelled and express Christly qualities, nothing can postpone our blossoming right here in our human experience. This does not mean we are required to stay in a situation that is dangerous or unhealthy. A friend recently shared, “God, the Master Gardener, may need to uproot us now and then to best support our growth.” It’s best to listen to God in order to know where and when to take footsteps.
I realized that, throughout the years, I have consistently turned to God for answers when facing tough situations. Writing this article inspired me to peruse old notebooks filled with affirmations of God’s care, spiritual ideas, and accounts of prayerful wrestlings during such times. One healing experience I revisited was when my husband and I got jobs in an apartment building. He was helping with maintenance, while I was the secretary in the office. Our upbeat and very pleasant boss was replaced by a man from a temp agency who complained constantly, refused to do much work, and regularly smoked in the small two-room space we shared (this was before official “no-smoking” rules became common in public spaces).
The situation was very upsetting, but I was certain the man from the agency would soon be replaced. However, weeks went by with no such news. I turned to God in prayer for guidance about whether or not I should stay. I remember realizing that, even if I was supposed to leave, I still needed to see the spiritual truth about this man. I needed to see him as God’s child, and our office as not poisoned by his presence.
It wasn’t easy, but I persisted in prayers that included Hymn 144 from the Christian Science Hymnal:
In atmosphere of Love divine,
We live, and move, and breathe;
Though mortal eyes may see it not,
’Tis sense that would deceive.
(adapt. © CSBD)
I began to see improvement. This man started doing some of the work he was supposed to be doing, which made my job easier, and he began to take smoking breaks outside. I felt my decision to stay had blessed both of us. Eventually, a new building manager was hired, and he was delightful. I was extremely grateful that I hadn’t left my job, as I would have missed getting to know this gentleman.
Each time we acknowledge the authority of God, Truth, we are able to see beyond bleak circumstances.
As I looked at my past experiences—whether I was guided to stay or move on, whether I felt innocent or partially responsible for a predicament—it dawned on me that blooming has everything to do with turning to God for clarity. It’s about learning to yield to what God, omnipotent and omnipresent goodness, knows about us.
Divine Mind always knows each of us as a pristine bloom, perfectly placed in His kingdom. Human locality is never our true placement.
Each time we acknowledge the authority of God, Truth, we are able to see beyond bleak circumstances, and we grow in spiritual maturity. “… Truth is the light which dispels error,” we read in Science and Health (pp. 282–283).
One day I realized: Of course! The highway poppies grew because they responded to the light, not to the gravel!
Let’s honor and give thanks for the blooming we all do, and acknowledge how our oneness with God makes wherever we may be right now the place to thrive. Our triumphs in Christ are proofs that God is everywhere we happen to be, and this fact will cheer and encourage others, just as those inspiring freeway flowers encouraged me.