– By Sara and Karyn Sealy (mother and daughter) –
This summer story began last November when my daughter and I planted pansies at our church, Mt. Calvary Lutheran, in Johnston. After church, one Sunday, we changed clothes and unloaded the truck with two flats of pansies that we grew in a horticulture class in Aiken. This journey of faith began as we surveyed the grounds for planting. Church members were elated at the new project and encouraged us as they gathered in front of the church after worship to speak to friends. As we began to dig in front of the Education Building, we also began to scratch our heads. The pansies were not labeled. We did our best to balance the colors and types of pansies by observing those that were already in bloom and seeing the variety of types by their leaf shape and size. The first patch was a variety of “Johnny-Jump-Ups” mixed among those pansies who had larger blooms. Three of our patches were arranged in a cross-shape. We planted five different patches in all to provide color for the winter ahead.
Weeks passed by with dry weather, we had a difficult time watering them. Our excitement, as well as that of the other members, began to wain perceptibly. The pansies seemed to shrink with the knowledge of deep winter ahead. As December came and went, they struggled to survive the harsh elements and we simply couldn’t water them enough, so we gave them up for lost. We were powerless against the forces of nature.
The great ice storm in February passed by and the plants remained, although stunted and strained beneath the house of their Mighty Maker. Pansies usually enjoy the cool weather, but with March came the winds, which began on the open hillside. The old cemetery, nude of trees and shrubs borders the church on the South. The other sides of the property are surrounded by cow pastures, creating an open, picturesque landscape scene. Two towers anchor the lovely knoll, reminding us elegantly that God is above man; our strength and our crops are under His grace.
Blooms began to show as Spring progressed on the timeless landscape. Yet, their appearance forewarned of certain demise. I advised my daughter to pull them up because they looked so pitiful below the walls of the great building. They were sad to look at by this point, after the extreme winter weather. Well, she decided to leave them a while longer. They were still green, at least.
Easter morning we drove up to the church and gleefully cheered and were also absolutely stunned. Every pansy was blooming with gusto. They had grown a little bit and filled in to create joyful mounds of color! Not only were the pansies in bloom, but they were joined with the first day lilies, Stella-de-oro variety. After church the congregation shared their joy of this wonderful religious time with the joys of the Earth promising fruitful days among the difficult.
Normally, the pansy is a winter flower. With summer, their duty was fulfilled and the dry hot days rolled onto the Ridge. The pansies persisted; a bloom or two every Sunday. Independence Day, July 4th, came and went. The pansies keep blooming. The day lilies weakened in the beastly heat, yet the gentle pansies remain. Today, July 22nd, I am excited to say that the pansies seem bound and determined to make it until next Easter! There are still a handful of blooms and the leaves remain green, even though rainfall has been sparse at the location. Such a miracle this has been for us to witness. Such a delicate symbol, but what a powerful reminder of our journey in faith. With the faith of a seed of mustard-doubt can be overcome. May we all have more faith in the days ahead and share our blooms with a world in need.