Some time ago I was bequeathed an orchid. Some Australian colleagues moved on and were unable to take the plant with them. Since they left, the plant has tried to flower twice. On both occasions and for various reasons the flowers did not make it to maturity. In the last few weeks I have watched with cautious optimism as the stem appeared, and then the buds formed. This time, thanks to Dr Google, I managed to discover some of the reasons why the buds did not make it to full flowering and to date three of the eight buds on the orchid have come into full bloom. It will be amazing if I manage to coax all eight buds into flower.
The first flower began to open during Holy Week, and in an odd way, it is the gradual opening of the first flower, and then the subsequent flowers which have marked out in a symbolic way this significant time in the Christian calendar for me this year.
The shrivelled dead remains of the first attempt at flowering are still present on the plant – reminding me of both the first Adam, whose mission was blighted by sin, and also of the cross which was so essential in putting right what Adam got wrong. It was not this, however, that drew my attention, it was the flower that was my major focus this week. All through this Holy Week the flower spoke to me of the fact that light, hope and beauty were the real focus of all the dirt and ugliness and pain that form the account of this week in the life of Jesus. The white purity of the petals fanning outwards expansively like the outstretched arms of Jesus on the cross have spoken to me of the gentle, peaceful, controlled demeanour of Jesus as he generously demonstrated the Father’s love throughout this whole experience.
Once the flower was fully-formed I looked more closely into its depths. I had never realised before that an orchid is so intricately constructed. With child-like imagination, I could see two angels outlined in red sitting each side of the grave clothes which were marked with flecks of blood, and the ‘yellow’ glory resulting from the drama of the risen Christ pouring out of the centre of the flower. On Easter Sunday morning, I just stood at the windowsill – ‘Jesus Christ is risen’. ‘He is risen indeed’ replied my beautiful orchid.
On Easter Sunday night, just before I went to bed, the third flower opened. The symbolism is complete.