I have a confession to make: I’m in love with hydrangeas. (I don’t care who knows it.) My obsession started when my parents moved from their beloved CT home to distant Alabama. My Mama, who passed her sweet sentimental genes on to me, had carted and cultivated a blue hydrangea, that had been transplanted from my great-grandmother’s plant, to various homes she’d lived in. Though they moved in summer and the hydrangea was in full bloom (not the best time to move it), my mom couldn’t bear the thought of leaving her plant behind. So she recruited one of our moving helpers, (bless his heart), to dig up that whole giant hydrangea plant, and pack it in all its uprooted strangeness into my mini-van. I promptly taxied it to my own home like I was a flower ambulance driver, and dug it a new home with all my heart.
The spring after they moved, I watched that hydrangea’s signature green leaves burst forth in full health. There would be life yet for this organic bridge of generations.
Or not. The plant was alive, but its poor shocked system wasn’t ready to re-bloom just yet. Not the first year. Or the second.
I waited patiently. One winter (remember that key detail), I went outside for the mail or one of the other two reasons you go outside in the frigid New England cold. And there, blowing down the road like a frosty tumbleweed, was a dried up hydrangea blossom.
Call it the innocuous catalyst to a winter-crazed mind, but I latched onto that plant in a symbolic way. Suddenly I had to know all about hydrangeas because how often does one casually breeze by your mailbox in the dead of winter?
Did you know hydrangea literally means “water vessel”? (That’s one fact I found out in my hydrangea frenzy.)
Water vessel. Water carrier.
These robust flowers are so named for their appetite and ability to draw up water and the bowl shape of their flowers. (*)
I believe we’re meant to be like these hydrangeas. (That’s right. Be the flower.)
Once Jesus sat at a well with a Samaritan woman who had gone all kinds of wrong in her life. And even as she went to draw physical water for herself from the well that day, Jesus promised her “living water” which only He could offer. He said “Everyone who drinks this [physical] water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14)
Later, in John 7 Jesus says, ““Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive.”
This world has only satisfied me to a point. After awhile, even the greatest physical experiences leave me missing something. Whether friendships, food or family; vacation or vocation. It’s temporary. It doesn’t last, and I keep returning to the well each day, seeking a pure joy and hope, but never filling myself completely.
Yet when I realize my physical world isn’t everything and I thirst for something greater, I’m finding that God DOES offer that living water that somehow floods my soul, offers me lasting purpose and hope, and, yes, satisfies me when I allow myself to be transformed by it.
But when we begin to thirst for that kind of water, we’ll find its not meant to be contained. No, I believe we become carriers of that water, like the hydrangea, overflowing with hope to others.
You are meant to carry water and spill it over in every place that you touch. We are meant to be spreaders of Hope and Life to our families, our co-workers, those that seem to have nothing and those that seem to have everything. When we thirst for living water we’ll find its an endless well and we’re not meant to hold it in but to let it flow, and this is the mystery of His Spirit.
I don’t know where you’re planted and drawing up water- I don’t know specifically where you’re meant to overflow with Hope. But I do know, you were created for this. You were made for the only Water that satisfies and you were made to overflow.
This world is struggling in more ways than we can count right now. If ever there was a (political, social, racial, economic, resource-scarce, confused, unjust) time to seek God’s heart and let it spill over in compassionate action, now is that time. And we are the water carriers.
P.S. My hydrangea finally did blossom, and just this year my mom took a cutting of it to her new home, so the legacy lives on!
Stay tuned!! In the coming weeks I plan to highlight a few practical, tangible ways you can make a difference with issues such as human trafficking, poverty, and more! If you’re currently involved with an organization or know of a group that is meeting physical needs and empowering the powerless, please pass along what you know! I’d even be happy to have you guest post about your experiences. Thanks for joining and for all the ways you share hope.