With anticipatory excitement, we sat huddled at the end of the driveway – Eva, my husband Mark, and me. It was summer, it was near dark and we were sitting in fold-up metal and plastic-webbed chairs, almost in the street. Our conversation flowed easily, with Eva telling us many interesting stories of her life. As we talked, every once in a while we would steal a glance at the plant that was the object of our evening get-together. And then it happened. Eva eagerly pointed out that we must concentrate on watching it closely. Our words stopped mid-sentence and we listened as Eva explained how the evening primrose would bloom. And so it did — eventually. A sliver of brilliant yellow was peaking out from the cocoon-like green bud. In slow motion, the green leaf jacket holding the bloom in check bent back, revealing the unfurling of the first yellow petal. The yellow sliver grew and with a sudden burst of energy, the green leaf split in two, revealing four gently unfolding yellow petals. The propeller-like pistil spun, offering up a light lemon scent. The four petals continued to spread open, wider and wider, proudly showing us its color and beauty, holding us spellbound in wonder of this blossoming gift when it was nearly too dark to see. The yellow evening primrose had graced us with its marvelous presence and did not disappoint.
Yes, the evening primrose is considered by many to be a weed. But it is a spectacular weed. Sitting with Eva that night, I learned patience and the importance of priorities. Eva, a gracious older woman in our congregation, had invited Mark and me to this stunning evening event one Sunday at church. We both had not heard of the evening primrose or its odd proclivity for the darkening hours of dusk. We, of course, wanted to visit with Eva, but watching a flower bloom, in the evening no less, was not exactly what we thought was productive or necessary in our lives.
That evening, over 10 years ago, Eva schooled us on the marvels of God’s creation, the patience of waiting 45 minutes from first peek of yellow to full bloom, and our sense of priorities. Nothing could be more important than sharing the sense of wonder as this amazing plant performed for us. Even now, lemon-scented memories of Eva waft through the air as her evening primrose, a gift from her yard given to us by her nephew after her death, brightens our evenings from late May through June. Mark and I know that each evening around 8:15 we will head to the back yard, pull up our chairs and wait for the evening primrose to bloom. We eagerly count the possible blooms (24 last evening) and point out which ones we think will bloom first and last. And we wait. By 9:00pm the show is over. Even after all these years we continue to ooh and aah over this miraculous gift. It slows us down, even for a few minutes. Nothing is more important to us than watching that plant bloom each evening.
There is always work to be done and plenty of things to do, but stopping to watch the evening primrose releases us from our busy-ness, reminding us that watching a flower bloom blesses us with a new appreciation for God, creation and miracles. Mark and I have decided that watching the evening primrose is at the top of our priorities. God’s miracles are everywhere. Thank God that Eva knew one when she saw one. And thank God that Eva knew Mark and I needed to learn the lessons of the evening primrose.