Photo by Faye Mozingo on Pixabay

For generations, gardeners have been trying to achieve the impossible: to breed a truly blue rose or a perfectly black tulip.

These two flowers have so intrigued people’s imaginations that they’ve entered both lore and literature.

Blue roses are often used to symbolize mystery and a longing to attain the impossible. Some cultures even say that whoever holds a blue rose will have his or her wishes granted.

Black tulips were featured in an 1850 novel by Alexander Dumas called what else but “The Black Tulip.” This swashbuckling tale of love, murder and greed centres on the quest for a unique jet-black tulip.

The problem is that blue roses and black tulips don’t exist in nature. Roses lack the specific gene that allows for a “true blue” colour. It’s the same story with black tulips: optically black flowers are virtually unknown in nature.

Plant breeders have come close to achieving a blue rose through hybridization, but the “blue” is often closer to lilac or mauve. To produce a bluer flower, they’ve had to resort to dyeing or genetically modifying the plant.

As for tulips, the “black” ones are usually a deep eggplant or plum colour. They give the appearance of being extremely dark, but are not optically black.

Maybe this is a hint that we were never meant to find perfection in this world.

Perhaps this life was never meant to fulfill all our desires. Even the very good things in this life won’t be perfect: relationships may falter, jobs may cease to be satisfying, our health won’t always last. Maybe we should never have expected these things to be perfect: perhaps we’ve been reaching for the impossible all along.

Perhaps instead we should put our focus on the next world, and keep our eyes on our heavenly destination. Scripture certainly seems to say so:

“Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things.” (Colossians 3:2)

“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 3:20)

Instead of struggling to reach perfection in this world or in our lives, maybe we should accept that we’ll never truly achieve it on this side of heaven. Maybe we shouldn’t put so much stock in ephemeral things. After all, our citizenship isn’t of this earth. As the old hymn goes: “This world is not my home, I’m just a-passing through.”

Black Tulips at Toronto Botanical Garden
Photo by Rodrigo Argenton, Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA-3.0

Maybe our energies should be directed toward doing good to others and bringing as many people as we can into the Kingdom, while we still have time.

“Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide yourselves with purses that will not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Luke 12:33-34)

It’s fun to try to achieve the seemingly impossible in this world, like roses or tulips in colours not found in nature, but our focus should be on the eternal, not the ephemeral.

As a nature lover, though, I wonder: will there be blue roses and black tulips in Heaven? Or flowers even more spectacular?

I look forward to finding out!

© 2020 Lori J. Cartmell. All rights reserved.

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