From Death Comes New Life

Wednesday, August 6

Photo by Judith Yager

Photo by Judith Yager

By Lu Mountenay of Independence, Missouri, USA

But now we are discharged from the law, dead to that which held us captive, so that we are slaves not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit.

—Romans 7:6 NRSV

On my way to work each day (and again when I leave) I pass a visual story waiting for someone to tell it. I asked my friend, Judith, to snap a photo of it. It is a dead shrub. It is one of the yews planted in the hedge bordering the World Plaza at the Temple in Independence, Missouri.

This one little bush, pruned into a square cube, has no green needles like the others on either side of it. The branches are bare and ash gray. Its skeleton creates a cage around a burst of living color captured inside. A bright purple, volunteer petunia has grown into the middle of the dead form.

Normally in our climate, we treat petunias as annuals, cultivated anew each year in warm greenhouses. They don’t survive our winters. Their seeds don’t germinate outdoors. But surviving an unusually mild winter, this “caged” petunia has done just that. And it has chosen a dead bush to sprout under and grow into. It lives surrounded by a dead plant. I wonder, do the branches protect the living flower…or trap it?

Do we feel protected and comfortable with our traditions or trapped and limited by them? For me, it is both. We need to balance the tradition we honor (our scaffolding) with the new life breathed into us by the Spirit. The atmosphere around us may influence how we bloom.

Doctrine and Covenants 161:5 supports today’s scripture in Romans:

Be respectful of tradition. Do not fail to listen attentively to the telling of the sacred story, for the story of scripture and of faith empowers and illuminates. But neither be captive to time-bound formulas and procedures.

And in Section 162:23:

…The spirit of the Restoration is not locked in one moment of time…Let the Spirit breathe.

When I first noticed the petunia, I thought of the poem by Norma Duncan. One excerpt reads, “Bloom where you’re planted; be the flower you are. With Jesus as your leader, he’ll take you far.

Prayer for Peace Ever-present God, help us bloom where you plant us and then grow beyond the confines of our limiting comfort zones. Help us stretch and grow toward peace.

Spiritual Practice: Trees Watch the trees outside your window for a few moments. Close your eyes and meditate on Alma’s words about seeds and trees. If you were to plant and grow the Word of God in your heart, what tree might represent this process? Envision a seed as it grows into a tree of life and blessing. Ask God to show you how to begin (see Alma 16:152–173).

Peace Covenant God, standing on foundations built by disciples before me, I will look to the future with the Spirit of new life.

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  1. Lynn

     /  6 August 2014

    Thank you Lu…this is very insightful…I’m sure I will use it in the future!!

  2. Janné Grover

     /  6 August 2014

    Beautiful analogy and wisdom expressed! Thanks so much for reminding us that tradition can both protect and cage, depending on how we allow the Spirit to breathe.

  3. Mikal Shedd

     /  6 August 2014

    I just read the Daily Bread for today. I found your discussion of the bush with the petunia growing inside very touching for some reason and will think about it for days to follow.

  4. Thank you for reminding me to let the spirit breathe in me and not getting stuck in a rut


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