There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,…
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance.
What is the season of your heart today? Are you enduring cruel winds of winter in your soul? Is your sky covered with gray clouds of doubt and despair?
Maybe this is your season of drought, when the parched earth of your spirit yearns for some sign of life.
In this, your season before the spring, death has invaded and stolen that which you have held closely and lavished with your love.
When you risk loving deeply—a child, a friend, a parent, a hope, a dream—you open your life to the possibility of suffering a devastating loss. Loss may be the price of love, and the parting may cost more than anyone but you can describe or fully understand.
Now you find yourself rooted in the middle of life’s prairie, either caught within a raging storm or gasping in the desert of an endless emotional dry spell. Yet you must find the strength to survive. And not just survive but bloom to love and hope again.
Did you know that God has planted promises for us in wildflowers? I’ve seen them bloom in beauty despite unforgiving climates or poor soil. He’s been painting a picture for me of his hope-filled promises following my own losses. His canvas consists of unpaved prairie land dating back to a time when its sandy ground did not coat high hills but lined the bottom of an ancient sea.
Throughout the year I follow a walkway through this dry land and take great pleasure in the vast array of plants that grace it. To me, the wonder of these wildflowers is that they live at all.
A high-desert prairie in winter is as forsaken as an abandoned homestead. Yet I love its bleak beauty and often marvel at the contrast between dry Colorado and water-rich Illinois, where I once lived. Here, where I walk my path down the months of November,
December, January, these sad hills spill ragged yucca, gasping cactus, and sandy soil that seems it never has and never will support colorful blooming life.
Then comes the spring, with tender shoots that grow into green, purple, white, and yellow affirmations of the hope in my own heart.
I’m reminded that your story, my story, and life itself mirror this prairie and its seasons. We each have known harsh times of illness, despair, or death; times of drought or storm that threaten to destroy joy and beauty forever. But our experiences reveal that even a dusty land gives forth treasures if we look for them. Life can bring out the best in us, even after a season of unfathomable loss and grief.
In these pages I invite you to walk with me along the rolling hills that lie at the base of the Colorado Rockies. Let’s look down at our feet and learn from the blossoms that tremble in the gentle breeze. Sometimes we’ll gaze at mountains capped with snow, subordinate only to a crystal-blue sky. But mostly we’ll be searching for nature’s gifts that emerge from this dry earth.
All sorrows can be borne if you put them
in a story or tell a story about them.
What does this water-starved earth in southern Colorado’s high desert have to teach us? It offers us inspiration prompted by prairieflower pictures in living color. We can find out about developing a personal root system that will sustain us in drought and nourish us when the rains fall at last.
This isn’t a book in which I will tell you how to endure your losses. I don’t have “eight easy ways to get through grief ”—or even one easy way. Because it never is easy. Yet survival secrets are yours to uncover as you read my stories and those of friends who share our fellowship of loss.
Let me encourage you to explore your own path of pain and recovery. As you do, I hope you will begin to tell your story and learn from it. This book is designed to help you journal about your experiences and unearth the treasures they contain for you. Would you consider this a dialogue? After you read my words, respond to my questions in your journal as you would talk to a friend over coffee or tea. We’ll tell our stories to each other and in so doing discover the nature of wildflower living. As you write from your heart, prompted by the exercises at each chapter’s close, you will find that the key to nurturing inner strength lies in essential elements you can embrace in your own way.
These elements—resilience, joy, optimism, faith, comfort, dreams, companions, hope—are gifts from the One who embeds his very self in his creation. “Speak to the earth, and it will teach you” (Job 12:8).
The book of Job details the devastating drought and storm that nearly destroyed a faithful man’s life. And how well this scripture portrays God’s role as giver of life and sweet renewal when the Lord asked Job: “Does the rain have a father? Who fathers the drops of dew?” (Job 38:28). Be assured that our needy hearts are promised refreshment from the Father “who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain, and a path for the thunderstorm, to water a land where no man lives, a desert with no one in it, to satisfy a desolate wasteland and make it sprout with grass” (verses 25-27). Study the earth and see how the “wasteland” around you is embedded with prairie-flower seeds just waiting for spring rains to awaken them for all the world to see.
Let’s now begin our journey together, seeking unique beauty
that can grow only out of scorched earth.