“Mortals, born of woman,
are of few days and full of trouble.
They spring up like flowers and wither away;
like fleeting shadows, they do not endure.
- Job 14:1-2
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear? For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
- Matthew 6:28-34
My wife’s father was a Dutchman, from Friesland. He grew up speaking several languages. As starters, he learned Dutch, German (from his mother), and the local Friesian language, close to old English. After World War II, he travelled to England, learning English while becoming a Dutch Army officer. In my wife’s early years, she moved to the Netherlands twice, before finally moving to the USA. When I was stationed in Germany with the Army, my wife visited her cousins in the Netherlands quite often.
When my parents visited in 1980, we went to the Keukenhof. The gardens were beautiful, breathtaking in fact. But my father asked about the fields of flowers that he had heard of. The Keukenhof just gave you hundreds of ways to present the flowers in your garden, but there were no carpets of color. So, before we went to Rotterdam to find a hotel for the night, we drove part of the way toward Amsterdam from Lisse, where the Keukenhof is located. On either side of the road, you could see a strip of color. The road was not elevated and the terrain was very flat. But I soon came to a bridge over a small canal. Everyone in the car gasped at the same time. I almost missed it, having to keep my eyes on the road. As far as the eye could see, there were fields of varying colors of tulips, a huge checkerboard of colors. I don’t know if I have ever heard three adults gasp at exactly the same time since, definitely breathtaking.
Upon our visit, our younger son was almost one-year-old. His older brother was almost four. When we went through the Keukenhof, he ran so energetically down the path that his shirt tale came out. A Dutch woman caught him, stuffed his shirt back into his pants, and lectured my wife on how he could catch a cold – in Dutch. She probably had no idea that my wife knew what she was saying.
While at the Keukenhof in early May, I had a map that showed what type of bulb had been planted in each bed. There was one bed that had a few buds, but no blooms. I looked on the map and saw that the late-blooming bulbs were West Point. Being an Army officer, through ROTC, always having to wait a day to get a promotion so that the West Point graduates had time in grade over me, I was now armed with a good joke, but a worker saw me gazing at the green patch, and he offered a catalogue that showed that the West Point tulip was yellow. So, for all of you West Point graduates out there, I thank you for your service, but remember that this ROTC grad and former Captain knows that West Pointers are both late-bloomers and yellow. I’ve always loved that joke, and a few, but only a few, West Pointers have laughed.
The Keukenhof is only open eight weeks. In their bulb store, in the middle of the garden, you buy bulbs in lots. Lots are about the size of a truckload, smallest lot might be a few hundred pounds of bulbs. Obviously, they sell wholesale to the distributors where you might buy a few bulbs. But the Scripture from Job talks of the flowers withering. The garden would look much differently if opened earlier or remaining open later. The tulips, hyacinths, and narcissus do not stay in bloom for long.
I do not have a huge theological point to make here. It has been a trip down memory lane. Jesus said that the flowers do not labor or spin, but to make a little patch of ground look like a little patch of heaven for about eight weeks, that takes a lot of labor. What follows are three virtual tours. The first one caught my eye when I was looking for something else. The second uses a different style of cinematography. The third was done this year since the gardens were closed due to COVID. It features the workers, some of their labors, and someone narrating in Dutch, so you will hear how to pronounce the name (English sub-titles), which means “kitchen court” or “kitchen garden.” Now, actually parroting the way he says it? My wife would shake her head and say that I still don’t get it!!!!
A bonus video of drone footage. Please, do not all gasp at the same time.
And to think that God took the time to make wide varieties of flowers, for a variety of reasons. One reason is to gaze and wonder about how beautiful God’s creation is.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.