Shortly before Jacob died he posted on Facebook his plans to plant a garden behind our home. I am not too sure what gave him this desire, he really wasn’t the green thumb type. Perhaps some of his mothers interests were starting to bloom within him. Stacey loves flowers and works in her labor of love around our home tending many beautiful blooming things. Jake didn’t get to plant his garden last spring, in fact Jake himself was planted in a seed plot on May the 15th. I would have never known his desires for a garden without Facebook. I scrolled through his posts shortly after his death and read of his desires. I decided that I would plant Jacob’s garden for him.Grandpa came and tilled up the area which used to be our pig pen, a perfect place for things to grow and the place which Jake wanted to use. I went to the store shortly after this and purchased seeds. Sunflower seeds were all I bought, I have always loved sunflowers and I thought Jake would be very approving of it. I carefully chose different kinds, colors and heights for Jacob’s garden and immediately went to work in planting. I planted a 30 foot square of small 4 foot sunflowers, then inside that I sowed 2 more squares of medium height flowers and finally the inner 2 squares of the large 10 footers. All different heights and all different colors would all grow together in a tapered cube of beauty.
I watered the garden of flowers all summer long, much of the watering came from me crying as I weeded out the thorns that sought to choke the life out of the plants. The garden grew and blossomed, giving me much healing as I worked in it over those difficult first months. The fall came and winter stormed in once again. Jacob’s garden was dead now, the passing beauty left with the change of seasons yet something bloomed out of Jacob’s garden this past spring. One sunflower was reborn out of all the seeds that dropped off all those dead plants, however it was not found in Jacob’s garden. It grew in a strange and most unexpected place.
Unbeknownst to me Stacey discovered a sunflower growing in her flower garden at the front of our house. Jacob’s garden and Stacey’s garden are perhaps 200 feet apart. She seeing that the plant was not a weed but a sunflower let it grow among her other plants all summer long. Sadly, I did not notice it until she showed me the sunflower around labor day. Immediately my heart was tender and tears came to my eyes. Thoughts raced to my mind and pictures began to form in my thinking that Sunday morning as we left for church. With those thoughts and the pictures now in my head I decided to write the allegory my heart saw.One of God’s creatures brought that seed to the edge of the paver blocks in that flower bed. Perhaps a bird dropped its meal after leaving Jacob’s garden for lunch. Who knows? God knows! The sunflower is one of the smaller kind that I planted, it is about 3 feet high with 4 flowers on the stalk. Three of the flowers had their petals and one did not. I arrived at church and sat to celebrate the day of the Lord, Sunday- his day that he came out from the grave. My mind moved to the sunflower again during the song service. I thought of God raising my son out the ashes and making him beautiful. I pondered the four flowers that bloomed and viewed them as the four remaining family members he left behind. Myself, my wife, my son and my daughter, every flower very much alive and very close together. I considered it odd that one flower did not have petals and my heart began to race. Sorrow overtook me where I sat and this is what I thought.
The petals for me represented the beauty of faith, not just any faith but faith in Jesus, a faith in his death and resurrection. Three family flowers with petals of faith and one without, yet in my mind I saw the one without petals as being two. My daughter is married now, and they are now one in the sight of God. I began to heave, I began to sob and I began to call out to God to put the petals of faith on my family who do not know him, love him and serve him. There I sit, overcome by grief in the middle of the church calling on God to do a miracle. By faith I believe he will.
This is an allegory. It is something that happened, an experience that I do not view as anything more than a teaching moment. My son did not visit me, nor did my son become an angel. Jacob did not become a bird, or guide a bird to deliver a seed from his garden to Stacey’s garden. My son is not the seed, nor the plant, and the blooms are not my family. This is an allegory, it comforted me and caused me sorrow and joy at the same time. It caused me to hope and to worship God and to plead for the ones I love. It was a strange and comforting allegory of life and nothing moreThe bible is absolute truth and is not an allegory. If taken literally it becomes simple and understandable; turn it into an allegory and everybody will have a different interpretation and a different truth for themselves. This of course fits well in our relativistic, pluralistic and syncretistic world. All that I understand from its teaching guides me into understanding the things that God wants me to know. By it I know that Jacob is not an angel, and that he cannot visit me here in this life. I know that there was only one incarnation of God, and God became a man in the person of Jesus Christ. I know that Jacob will never be reincarnated as a seed, or a bird or as a sunflower. By this truth, I know that he awaits the resurrection of his body from the dead. And I rest on the promise of the Incarnate One who said, “I am the resurrection and the life. whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this? (John 11:25-26 ESV)
I look at life much differently these days, I see things through the lens of faith and also through the lens of grief. Life has many teachers, creation will take you to school if you allow it to. Sunday, September 13th, I went to teach my class at church and again I became the student. What was my lesson? Remember your hope in Jesus, and remember to pray continually to him for those you love. This is my story, an allegory, and that is all.