Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Gospel According to Daffodils


The Puget Sound Region is one of the most beautiful parts of America, but we have committed our
share of strip-malls. Almost from Olympia to past Bellingham, 150 miles, the main thoroughfare
north to south, I 5, exits lay in wait like traps, with asphalt parking lots and cookie-cutter chain stores ready to snap their jaws down on the souls of motorists.  Having traveled north along this corridor many times, I recognize many beautiful sights: crossings the Skagit and Stillaguamish rivers, mists on the hills above Lake Samish south of Bellingham, Mount Baker rising above the clear-cut foothills around Mount Vernon. And of course off the freeway a few miles, beauty is the rule more than the exception.  But at the exits, Convenience, not Beauty, is the muse to whom the Fates bow lowest. 

At 300th North, some Lutherans found a way to exorcise that witch, and show us Washingtonians what a little whimsy and a few well-spent dollars could create in place of parking lot. 

We were mushing our way north, and ran into a traffic jam.  After pushing through at five miles an hour for ten minutes, a sign alerted us to the cause: the road narrowed a mile ahead from three lanes to one.  A permanent sign just a few feet before that marked an exit at 300th Street, also about a mile north.  Could we get off the freeway, and take some back roads around the traffic jam?

Yes!  And a hundred yards up a little hill at right angles from the freeway, a mass of yellow caught my eye. 

This "Free Lutheran" church was founded in 1900.  Set on 20 acres, the caretaker, or manager of the
property had a few dollars to spend.  "We didn't want this to become just another strip mall," a man I met on a side road told me.  (I think his name was Collin.) 

"I told him about this place in California called the Mountain of Flowers.  A woman had started planing daffodils 70 years ago.   They kept spreading."  The caretaker went to see the mountain, and called Collin and said, "We've got to do this!"

Not wanting to wait 70 years -- we are still Americans, after all -- they planted thousands of bulbs right away. 

And this is the result. 

"Preach the Gospel always.  Use words when necessary.  Otherwise, use daffodils."

Or tulips (we did make it to Mount Vernon, mostly by back roads past homes and horses and the occasional bicycle in a tree.) 

Didn't God give us the job of gardening? 

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