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A Hibiscus "Hug from Heaven" by: Margaret McSweeneyThe flurry of festivities during Thanksgiving weekend came to an abrupt halt as I began the first week of December 2013 with an empty nest. My husband was back at work. My daughters were back at college. And my brother, Claude, and niece, Mary, were back in Alabama and Tennessee. Bare branches accentuated the overcast gloom in the Chicago suburbs on what marked the third anniversary of my brother Randy’s passing. Randy had been feeding a stray cat on his deck when the fatal heart attack struck.
Walking downstairs, I whispered a prayer. “Lord, I am feeling really sad right now. Please help me experience your joy.” As I walked into the family room, my heart smiled. The pruned hibiscus plant balanced a solitary flower that had blossomed overnight! This was truly a hibiscus “hug from heaven.”
In her book <em>When Grief Is Your Constant Companion</em>, my late mother shared her poignant poem about a hibiscus plant. She wrote this following poem several years after losing my dad to a sudden heart attack while he was in Paris on a business trip.
TEARDROPS: EVERLASTING JOY
By Carolyn Rhea
My love, how can it be
That I no longer think of you
Almost every waking moment
And grieve for your loving presence?
There are small spaces of time
When my life is so absorbed in present living
That you are not in my thoughts at all.
How sad that I should forget you even for an hour!
But I have not forgotten you, my dear.
You are forever a part of me.
You helped God shape my life
Into my present self.
I carry your love in my heart.
I miss you so very much and always will.
But now I’m caught up in trying to reconstruct
With God’s guidance
A meaningful life for myself.
One in which I can help,
Serve, share, love, grow.
I remember the hibiscus plant
We bought at the annual show.
It was called Teardrops,
For several perfectly-shaped white teardrops
Spattered the broad expanse
Of its gorgeous pink blooms.
How we loved it!
Then later, after it had grown much taller,
We saw a different kind of bloom:
Multitudes of small, sturdy, happy pink blossoms
Swaying merrily in the Florida breeze!
Teardrops had been grafted onto a stronger plant!
We named it Everlasting Joy.
Teardrops still bloomed at the lower level,
But as the plant grew ever upward and outward,
Everlasting Joy bloomed in profusion!
Lord Jesus, when teardrops fall,
Help me remember that through faith
I have been grafted in You –
You, the vine;
I, a branch –
Eternally secure in God’s love through Thee!
Blessed with Thy fullness of joy on earth
And the promise of everlasting joy in heaven!
Thank you, dear Father for sharing your everlasting joy with me today in my solitude. We are not alone in our grief. You are with us. “Ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.” John 16:20
Margaret McSweeney is well-published author (A Mother’s Heart Knows, Go Back and Be Happy, Pearl Girls, Mother of Pearl, Aftermath), host of Kitchen Chat, and the founder of Pearl Girls™. Through Pearl Girls™, Margaret collaborates with other writers on projects to help fund a safe house for WINGS, an organization that helps women and their children who are victims of domestic violence, and to build wells for schoolchildren in Uganda through Hands of Hope. For the past twelve years she has served on the board of directors and leadership advisory board for WINGS. Margaret lives with her husband and 2 daughters in the Chicago suburbs. Learn more at Margaret's website.