Let’s talk about violets. I don’t mean the flower shop variety that people pay a bunch of money for and then pamper to make them bloom. I mean the little, wild violets that pop up in the yard in the spring, the lowly purple flower, the weed. Call me crazy, but of all garden flowers, they are my favorites. I love their color, their leaves, and the way they just appear overnight and smile at the sun. I love how humbly beautiful they are. This is a story of violets, royal purple, and God’s love.
“The violet can signify ‘modesty’ and ‘humility’ and is often looked upon as a sign of innocence. Violets are symbolic of faith, mystical awareness, inspiration, spiritual passion, profuseness and sovereignty.“
My relationship with violets began when I was a small child at my grandparents’ house. Old railroad tracks ran behind their house, and we would walk downtown or just go for a stroll with Grandma on those tracks. My memories of springtime include the garden fragrant with tomatoes and basil, goldfinches in the tree by the garden, and violets growing in great abundance along those railroad tracks. I loved picking bouquets of violets and carrying them home to place them in a whiskey glass with water.
Purple! Purple is a very royal color for such an unassuming plant. It has a rather impressive history, too.
In fact, it is so royal, that during the reign of Elizabeth I, no person under the rank of Count could wear purple. “Elizabeth issued a total of twelve edicts on dress, making her reign unprecedented in its active restraints on apparel. The sumptuary laws were an attempt not only to clarify who was who but, as one scholar has written, ‘to freeze into place the signs that established status and social identity.’”
“The British were not the only royals to feel that way. In Republican Rome, wealthy men with more than 400,000 sesterces were inducted into a special class known as the equites. One of the perks of being an equite was permission to wear a narrow Tyrian purple stripe on one’s robes. Considering that the average Roman legionary was paid 900 sesterces per year, the equites could definitely afford this luxurious dye.
“By Imperial Rome, only the Emperor was allowed to wear purple. Even wearing imitation shades of purple made with cheaper materials resulted in punishment. By now purple was synonymous with power and so only the Emperor had access to any shade of it. This association of royalty and purple continued well into the Byzantine Empire.”
Back to my story: fast forward many, many years. I was living in a situation that was sad and depressing. I knew the Lord, but even Christians get sad sometimes. It seemed my life had sunk into a hole, and my living conditions were sucking the joy right out of me. I prayed and I prayed and finally one dreary night in May I desperately cried out, “Lord! Have you forgotten me?” I cried myself to sleep that night.
The next morning I walked out the back door to go to work. The sun was out, and my little yard was bursting with–you guessed it!–beautiful deep-purple violets! This was all the more miraculous because I had never seen a violet out there before. They literally arrived over night.
That morning, I realized that God heard my prayers; that He hadn’t forgotten me; and that He remembered even the tiny details of my life, like how much I loved violets. He gave me a royal purple bouquet.
He Knows Us Well
“The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” (Romans 8:16). His heavenly edicts on dress say that I am qualified through the blood of Christ to garb myself in His glory, even better than purple.
The Lord God restored joy to my heart, mind, and spirit. His gift of purple violets gave me the strength, faith, and hope to go forward and know that a better day was coming. And you know what, a better day did, indeed, come.
Now, whenever I see purple violets, I am reminded of God’s great love for me. He loves us all, but violets gently whisper to me that His love is a very intimate and personal thing. They take me back to a night when He heard me cry, and sent me a bouquet of my favorite flowers.