The gladiolus stands tall and straight, its blossoms in a row, announcing to all the world its symbolism of strength and sincerity. The gladiola is often the frame upon which the florist creates. The backdrop for the arrangement. The strength for the display of color and beauty.
I always thought of gladiolus as flowers that made you glad. I assumed that was the root of the word. How surprised I was to learn they were named after warriors.
The gladiolus is the flower of the gladiator; named for those fierce warriors. Its Latin root, gladius literally means sword. The flower is even sometimes called the “sword lily.”
The gladiola reminds me of Jesus. We are called to be in Jesus’ army and to fight evil around us. To do so, Ephesians 6:11-17 reminds us to put on the full armor of God. One part of that armor is the sword of the Spirit; which is the word of God. The gladiola, the “sword lily,” reflects both the power and the beauty of scripture.
Gladiators were cast into a pit of evil. So are we. But we have Jesus with us. He will fight with and for us.
The poppy grows in fields, spreading out as far as the eye can see. Low to the ground, waving in the breeze. Fluid, gentle, tender. The poppy is the state flower of California. Despite the flower’s exuberant growth in the wild—covering meadows and poking out of beach grass—it is illegal to pick the flower. It is precious.
My favorite image of poppies is from the movie, The Wizard of Oz. Dorothy and her friends climb a hill and look out into the valley ahead. “Poppies!” they exclaim before jogging, leaping and skipping into their midst.
Yes, the poppies were poisoned by the wicked witch, but their sight was joyful. And despite the poison, our stalwart friends didn’t gasp and choke. They simply lay down in the midst of the pleasant meadow and drifted off to sleep.
This image reminds me of Psalm 23:
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me…
I wonder. When we walk through the darkest valley, is it possible that the valley floor is covered with spiritual poppies?
Has God provided a soft meadow for us to rest in during our journey through the dark valley?
Will Jesus wake us gently, when we are renewed and ready to complete the journey?
AN AUGUST BOUQUET
The gladiola is about strength, named for some of the fiercest warriors in history. The poppy is a gentle flower, growing wild and free. Taken together, perhaps we need both the strength of the warrior gladiola and the gentleness of the poppy in our lives. Both of which Jesus can provide.
What an unusual and beautiful bouquet they make when placed together and tied with the ribbon of faith.
Happy birthday to all you August babies.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us to live strong and joyful lives for you. Remind us to put on the full armor of God each day, including the Sword which is your word. Remind us to be both warriors for you but to also have a glad and sincere heart for your plan and how to treat others with gentleness. Amen.
WHAT ABOUT YOU? Which of these two flowers do you think best represents Jesus?