Dear Hyde Park Family,
I don’t remember the first time I ever heard the phrase “Bloom where you’re planted,” but the phrase has stuck with me. Basically, it’s an invitation to make the most of your circumstances and look for ways to turn the most miserable situation into an opportunity for growth.
The first person to use the phrase was St. Frances de Sales, a 17th century French Catholic bishop:
“Truly charity has no limit; for the love of God has been poured into our hearts by His Spirit dwelling in each one of us, calling us to a life of devotion and inviting us to bloom in the garden where He has planted and directing us to radiate the beauty and spread the fragrance of His Providence.”
It’s a lovely sentiment, made even more poignant when one considers the challenges that Frances himself had to overcome.
- He failed at law school and decided to enter the priesthood instead, which surprised and disappointed his parents.
- He was, by many accounts, a terrible preacher. When he preached, “The listeners thought he was making fun of them.” And people complained to the bishop that de Sales was “too conceited and controlling.”
- He organized a missionary effort to Geneva, Switzerland, but only two people joined the team – him and his cousin.
- As he tried to share the gospel, he had doors slam in his face and rocks thrown at him.
- In the bitter winters, his feet froze so badly they bled in the snow, and one night he had to sleep in a tree to avoid wolves. He tied himself to a branch to keep from falling out and was so frozen the next morning he had to be cut down.
- After three years of evangelizing, his cousin left him, and he had not made one convert.
- Talk about a rough day at the office.
But de Sales did not quit, and he chose to bloom where he was planted. Because he could not get a face-to-face audience with people, he wrote his sermons down, reproduced them, and slid them underneath people’s doors. To this day, he is known as the patron saint of journalism because of his printed efforts. Slowly, his efforts warmed the hearts of the people of Geneva, and it is said that he returned to France having converted 40,000 of them to Catholicism.
Over time, throngs of people came to him to learn spiritual practices and how to live the Christian life. His book Introduction to a Devout Life, originally a collection of letters he wrote to common people seeking his direction, became widespread in its popularity all throughout Europe in 1608.
THIS SUNDAY: BLOOM WHERE YOU’RE PLANTED
The prophet Jeremiah could have identified with St. Frances de Sales. He was writing to Hebrew exiles who were living in the misery of a foreign land. But the text for this Sunday reminds us that even in exile, we can practice the advice of Frances, and “bloom where we are planted.”
Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce … seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. (Jeremiah 29:4-5 | Jeremiah 29:7)
Join us this Sunday as we continue our worship series “The Bright Side” with a reminder of how God’s power and presence enables us to do more than make the best of our situation. God can help us mature and even flourish amid our hard times.
EVERY TIME YOU FALL
In addition to coining the phrase “bloom where you’re planted,” Frances de Sales also wrote this helpful word of advice:
Do not look forward to the mishaps of this life with anxiety, but await them with perfect confidence so that when they do occur, God, to whom you belong, will deliver you from them. He has kept you up to the present; remain securely in the hand of his providence, and he will help you in all situations…. If you happen to do something that you regret, be neither astonished nor upset, but having acknowledged your failing, humble yourself quietly before God and try to regain your gentle composure. Say to yourself: “There, we have made a mistake, but let’s go on now and be more careful.” Every time you fall, do the same.
Wise words, indeed.
See you Sunday!
Grace and Peace,
The Rev. Magrey deVega
Senior Pastor, Hyde Park United Methodist