Monday, April 2, 2012

The Tulip

Her tiny fingers fumble towards the petals.  She touches the edge of yellow velvet and starts to peel it back.

I place my hand upon hers and explain the deep truth so many of us fail to see.

"You can't peel back the tulip petal before it's ready to bloom." 

She looks at me confused.  "But...all the others are already in bloom...I just want to help this one..."

Her dark eyes, so innocent, so pure, look searchingly into my own and I explain further.

"The flower blooms when it is ready. When the sun shines upon it at just the right time and the rain falls in just the right way and the flower is nourished and ready...then it opens. You can't force a flower to will only break the petals."

Oh that we mothers would all take a lesson from the tulip.

We can't force our children to learn any more than my daughter could force that tulip open.  But the tulips...they all bloom don't they?  Some earlier than others...but eventually...when the time is right...the flower opens toward the sky and spreads her petals.

Every day we have a choice about our efforts.  We can pour ourselves into nourishing the soil.  Or we can force the petals open.  The former encourages blooming.  The latter disrupts the process and crumples beauty.

The child is forced to sit for hours and "learn" when she has not the capacity.  Phonics forced down the throat of a child who isn't ready.  Handwriting demanded of a child who has not the fine motor skills to produce anything legible.  We've all done it.  We've all sat at a table and stared across it at a child whose eyes are glazed over and who isn't processing.  And at that moment, we have a choice.  We water the soil...or we force the petals open.  

I read a quote a couple of years ago in Elaine Cooper's book, When Children Love to Learn that sums it up well.
"No children should be kept in, sitting on a chair, anywhere in God's world because someone has decreed that they, even though not developmentally ready, have reached "the age" when they should learn how to read."  (p 32)

I love this.  Nowhere, on God's Green Earth, should a child be forced to learn something before he is ready.

The tulips want to bloom.  All of them.  Their stems reach upward, their petals growing closed, there they stay until the day of their fulfillment.  The day which has been ordained for them to push forth and blossom completely.  And let us not forget that, when it clouds over, the rain threatening to pound against their vulnerability, they close up yet again. They protect the beauty resting within...that which we all strain our eyes to see as we pass by.

When it is safe.  When the sun shines bright.  When the roots are nourished...the growing complete...then, and only then, do the petals open.  They stand tall against the blue sky, bright and bold.

We behold their glory...and in it we see our Creator.