When cold winter days drag on….., sunlight is restricted, and ice dangles from the trees, my heart yearns for flowers. Red or pink roses, purple or blue lilacs, yellow or white daffodils, any flower will do. In life, certain people pop up as flowers in the dreary spots of my life. It could be someone I know, someone I have read about or someone I have heard about that speak to me of something beyond myself. Let me tell you about my eldest sister, a Queen whose name I bear and and a Queen whose name she bears.
My eldest sister is five years my senior and is called Elizabeth. To me, she is “Betty”. Being the eldest daughter, work had to be 2nd nature, and she learned early, to help around the house and to be a caregiver. As a young wife she went to college and became a nurse. Everyone loves Betty, she is fun loving, genuinely interested in people and selfless. Several years back some of us siblings went to see and pray with her as she was very ill. We knew that but for God’s grace, we would not have her much longer. God, however is gracious, and she is still with us. In the winter of mental health, she has provided a stable home for three of her grandchildren to find a safe refuge. In the icy cold grip of dementia she has opened her home to our eldest brother giving oasis. Her life, though riddled with inability due to illness, shines bright with purpose, illuminates hope to those around her with a warm radiance.
We find the story of Queen Esther in the Bible. She was a young woman, taken from her home, solely because a king was unhappy with his previous wife, and wanted a change. Her appearance and personality, in our thinking, may be the reason that got her to the palace, but God planted her there because He had a plan and knew He could count on her. When the time came, an evil aid to the King, had plans to kill the Jews of which, unknown to the King, she was one. With strong encouragement from her Uncle, she took actions which resulted in the Jews being not only protected, but given the power to protect themselves. She had to deny her own life to do so. Her submission to God and His direction made her a beacon of triumph for her people.
Queen Elizabeth the 2nd, well up in her nineties, still sits on the throne as Queen of England. In a position she may not have chosen for herself, she has thrived. There have been conflicts in her family, her nation and her world. She however, held on to her purpose, and faithfully fulfills her role. Both my mother and my mother-in-law, each Christmas, would turn on the television to hear the Queen’s address. She has been a role model for many throughout the generations, of grace and fortitude. In a time when what feels good, or gives the most immediate satisfaction, Queen Elizabeth the 2nd stands out as a beam of higher values; of submission to a cause greater than ones self, to a purpose beyond the day to day, and a faithfulness year in and year out, to a position beyond herself.
Therein lies today’s garden of inspiration. My eldest sister, Queen Esther and Queen Elizabeth the 2nd. These are only a few. We find them in our families and communities, on the television or in books. May there be many flowers pop up in your garden of life in this wintry season!