One autumn, during a visit to see my parents in Tennessee, the whole family attended our church’s annual auction.
“Next we have surprise lilies,” the announcer said, gesturing toward a few beat-up bags of flower bulbs.
Mama and I each bought a bag.
“I wonder why they call them surprise lilies,” Mama said.
“I guess we’ll find out!” said Daddy.
I brought my bulbs home to Texas and planted them. Mama planted hers in her garden. One morning in May, I called Mama. “My lilies haven’t sprouted yet.”
“No luck here, either,” she said. “Your daddy and I check every day.”
Springtime came and went, and still no lilies for either of us. Duds!
The next season brought no surprise lilies to Texas or Tennessee. We didn’t bring it up. Why disappoint each other? When Mama died, I didn’t want to think about flowers.
Still, I stepped outside one morning to water the garden. A new plant seemed to have sprung up overnight. I leaned in to see a crown of tiny lilies atop a thick stalk. I ran inside to call my father. Before I could tell him the good news, he shouted, “Surprise!”
Huh? “Okay, you go first. But I bet I can top it.”
“Surprise lilies!” he said. “After all this time, they bloomed here today.”
We’d finally learned the secret of the lilies. An earthly gardener couldn’t make them blossom. They only bloomed at an angel’s touch.
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