Anticipating Graduation

We have had a beautiful ornamental shrub in the front of our house that has played a prominent role in every graduation we have celebrated over the past 28 years. The delicate, purple-colored petals of this rhododendron have been the backdrop to many photos during the latter weeks of May. Annually, it has bloomed at the perfect time for us to celebrate elementary, secondary, and college graduations! Although they won't be around to get that special picture, we do have two special grandsons - Brady and Ben - who will be celebrating their 8th grade graduations in the next few days and their passage into high school this fall. Oh, how those years have passed so quickly!

And there are more celebrations coming! I said to our grand daughter, Chloe, just the other day, "Sweet Girl, someday, you will be standing before the 'ole rhodie' mugging for the camera in all your youthful beauty as we mark for all-time the accomplishments represented by your graduation." While I was waxing eloquent, she interrupted with her questions, "What did you say? You mean that old bush/tree that makes me sneeze this time of year?! I'm not sure I want to stand in front of that because an aggressive robin bird tried to flog me last year when I got too close to its nest!"
At least a 30-year-old Rhododendron - 8' high

Nature does have a double edged impact, especially in the spring and early summer. I love our stately oak tree for its shade, but this time of the year it sheds a pesky moss that is full of pollen! And in the fall, there will be tons of acorns to process!

I also prize our silver maple for its soft and airy branches that provide shade for the backyard baseball batting, pitching and catching with the grands. But then, there are those "bazillions" of seeded whirlybirds that cover the drive and patio!

And did I mention the lawn that needs mowing nearly every five days after the lawn service has hyped it with a spring treatment of granular fertilizer and pre-emergent weed chemicals? Then, there is the matter of the overgrown hedges that require monthly trimming and grooming. Don't misunderstand, I do love our yard, but it requires some serious maintenance to keep it at bay!

When God gave Eden to Adam and Eve, he told them it would require tending responsibilities. "The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and keep it" (Genesis 2:15 ESV). In a study note of this verse, it is pointed out how "productive work is part of God's good purpose for man in creation."  There is an obvious and intentional stewardship in maintaining the fruit of creation. I need to be reminded of this "management command" when the day's temperatures get hotter and the pollen count gets higher! This is indeed, My Father's World and it is beautiful to behold!

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,
active churchman and
doting grandparent.


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