Oscar Wilde once wrote, "Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead." I'd have to add to it that without love, the garden of our lives just never really blossoms. For the longest time I was quite impressed with my neighbors on the street corners by my house because they always seemed too have brightly blooming flowers, full flower beds, and just generally well-groomed yards. Try as I might, my flowers never really looked as good as theirs - not as full, brightly colored, or continually blooming. It wasn't until one day when I was pursuing something which had blown from my yard into theirs that I realized those blooms were all just silk flowers! When I questioned my neighbor, she said she didn't have time to garden, but liked the color and the "curb appeal" of those "full beds", so she went to Walmart every so often, bought a bunch from the dollar section, and stuck them in the ground - giving the appearance of "beauty" and "growth", but without any real effort on her part! Made me wonder about the things we "put on display" in our lives which "resemble" love, but which are merely "fake blooms" giving the impression of a lush garden.
My children, our love should not be only words and talk. No, our love must be real. We must show our love by the things we do. (I John 3:18 ERV)
The idea of creating the illusion of full flower beds was quite ingenious on her part, but it gave others an impression which wasn't real in any sense. When those silk flowers faded, she merely replaced them with new ones - but never really did more than "buy" the beauty she displayed in those beds. There are times in our relationships with other human beings where I think we may make the same discovery - there is an impression of love, but in actuality, this is only an illusion. There are words of love, but the actions don't match the words. There is an intention to love, but the motivation never really reaches the heart and therefore, the actions fall short of what the intention may have promised. Mother Teresa was frequently quoted as saying you had to "spread love" wherever your feet walked, hands touched, or eyes connected. Her thoughts really focused more on the concept of putting "feet and hands" to love - not just words and material things. Yes, she needed the donations of those who could support the ministry she had to those in need within her missionary work, but she desired more to see others begin to reach out to those around them, becoming ambassadors of love, just as she was exemplifying in her own life.
Thoreau said, "There is no remedy for love but to love more." I have to add, "There is no reality to love until we love with true sacrifice." Words are like silk flowers - they might catch our ear and cause us to turn toward them to admire them a little, but they won't lend richness to our lives until we see the actions which mirror those words. A bed of living flowers, beautifully cultivated, and fully in bloom lends a scent which tickles the senses and stirs the inner part of our souls to consider the beauty we behold. That living, "breathing" bed of flowers becomes a haven for other life form - deep within the soil, deep within the beauty of the blossom's petals, and safely sheltered within the expanse of the leaves. Love lived out becomes much like this bed of richly blooming flowers - a place of life, sustenance, and shelter.
My message today is short, because words cannot stir love within your heart as much as the actions I challenge each of you to begin today. We may have been "duped" by words on occasion, but we are "drawn" by the actions of love because they are life-giving. My challenge to us today - find a way to show love to someone who is in need of that life-giving, and sometimes life-altering example we will reveal within those actions today. Don't settle for silk flowers in your life - but be willing to "tend the garden" we call life with all the attention love requires. You won't be happy with the illusion for very long - nor will you or others find much enjoyment in what has "signs of life", but no real life at all. Just sayin!