Hope’s a hard thing to get rid of, although it dies frequently. There are plenty of things on my prayer list that should have been abandoned long ago, but they keep finding their way back on there – why is that? Why doesn’t my heart just give up on them? How does this vision and desire persist?
I’m so familiar with the story of my namesake, Ruth, who walked in the hot fields gleaning. It comes to mind often when I walk near my home among the wheat… watching it green, bud, and then whiten. I wonder if back in those days, she also saw poppies spring up in the midst of it, backlit by the dawn and dripping blood-red in the harvest.
I wonder. I’ve stood in awe, seeing that sight myself. I know the farmers curse it – season after season the poppies spring up unbidden, polluting the crop. It goes to seed, every year, and sheds the promise of more next year.
My hope is like that. It springs up, beautiful but often unwanted in the midst of the field of my life. It stands out, it catches the glory of the Sun. But it withers and dies so very quickly.
When my life isn’t turning the way I wanted, when my harvest isn’t a full crop as I desired. I blame the poppies. I blame the dreams that simply will not die out, but keep springing back, season after season, beautifying and interrupting my field.
These hopes are as persistent as weeds.
But I’m learning to see the beauty of them. I learn to love their context, thriving as they do in the daily bread of my day. I learn to mourn them when they die, but also celebrate their proliferation as they go to seed in my life, promising to return ever more beautiful and plentiful next time round.
And poppies do make us remember. Thinking of the poppy fields in Flanders, France, we too lay down our lives, as Jesus first laid down his for us…
23 Jesus replied, “Now the time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory. 24 I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives. 25 Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity. 26 Anyone who wants to serve me must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me.