In a vacant lot near my home, a single tulip bloomed each spring. As the snow melted, my father and I would drive slowly by looking for it. When at last we spotted its brilliant red flower among the weeds, we rejoiced. To us, that was the moment spring returned. When I asked my father how the tulip came to bloom there, in such an unfriendly place, he told me, with a shrug, “God knows.”
I now know that either an animal or a bird had probably stolen a tulip bulb from someone’s garden and dropped into the middle of that overgrown thicket. But as a young child, it was a miracle to find that bright red tulip blooming in solitary splendor in that vacant lot!
I still experience the Spirit in the natural world. The Holy is closest when I am outside: on the trails I run, on the rocks I climb, in my garden. The breath of the Holy is like the wind: too strong and too unruly to be contained in a building, moving everything and bringing abundant life everywhere—even in a vacant lot.
I value my spiritual community for its fellowship, and for being a place where I can hear and be heard, but it is in the woods or the mountains, at the seaside or in the desert, where I sense the presence of my Holy companion, and where I am filled with reverence.