In my (previous home’s) yard there was a long hedgerow that, despite it being rather scrubby, divided my property from an even unsightlier apartment complex. I noticed one day a single orange Poppy peeking out of the thick weeds, its silky paper-like head sitting on top of a long skinny stem. ‘Hello there’, I said to the flower, ‘I didn’t expect to see something like you here!’ First I wondered how it got there. In my Mom’s property next door there are a happy group of poppies about 50 feet away, but even then there is a dividing line of bushes that would prevent a seed from easily blowing that way. Maybe it was carried by a bird, or it got caught on the fur of a stray cat?
How it happened was a question that lasted a short time, seeming to be less important than figuring out why for so many days since then I was feeling something for that lone poppy … and still do.
I thought of the poppies in my Mom’s garden far away, and how pretty they were all huddled together. I thought of a field of poppies, a glorious image of freedom and collective beauty that has been captured in artwork and in people’s imaginations.
But for some reason this single poppy in the hedgerow was not invoking the same sense of glory to me. Seeing it there all alone just felt so … sad. And it is dawning on me why. This Poppy, while it had the seed of fruitfulness inside it, was not in a place where it can multiply its beauty in, and unto like-kinded relationships. Even if it dropped its seed on a small patch of weed-free soil below, rare as that would be, what was the chance the new baby poppy would survive to be anything more than a solitary flower like its parent? A group of poppies, let alone a field of poppies, was just not going to happen in this shady patch of hedgerow and trees.
And so, I watched the Poppy shine bright for a few days, then slowly as it dropped its velvet petals one by one, leaving only its seed pod exposed. That’s how it stands now, waiting for the sun to crack it open and drop its precious seed to be wasted on the rogue wasteland below. I don’t think I will see this pretty orange flower in that hedgerow again. That makes me feel sad.
But I am glad I saw this Poppy the short while it lasted, because I felt something for a beautiful thing of potential that is in a wrong place, a choking place, and for the fuller glory of God in the earth, I just wished this Poppy was elsewhere.
Oh Poppy in the hedgerow,
do you see what I see?
Do you hunger for more,
do you yearn to be free?
I assure you, Except a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it abides alone: but if it dies, it brings forth much fruit. ~ John 12:24