Friendship can be found in the most unlikely places, if you are willing to open your heart. —Unknown
Lately, I have found myself flipping through catalogs filled with peonies. I know there is still snow on the ground, but a girl can dream, can't she?
My friend Lynn and I have made our way out to Swenson Gardens in Cokato to walk through fields and fields of peonies. There is every variety, from simple single-petaled ones to big puffy ones that look like roses. And there is every hue, from pale yellow to peach, from bright red to a beautiful shade of burgundy. We each pick out our favorites, pay for them, and then make the trip back out in September to pick up our plants.
This may sound odd to you, but the thing I love most about peonies is that if you plant a peony bush, ants will be sure to show up. I love this unlikely friendship.
In fact, I have load of pictures of ants climbing on my peonies. Weird, I know. But, it's who I am.
Ants and peonies kind of go together like peanut butter and jelly. They are very different, yes. But, together they make an amazing team. The association is so strong that much folklore has developed around the issue of ants on peonies. Do peonies need ants to bloom? The folklore from peony gardens states that they do. But it really isn't true. Peony blossoms open whether ants are scrambling all over the flower buds or not.
But I sort of like this unlikely pairing.
Have you ever seen photos of unlikely friendships between animals? Like a cow and a cat? Or a deer and dog? They warm your heart. That's how I feel about the unlikely friendships in my life.
Take for instance my friend Sailaja who grew up in India. She is quite a bit younger than me. Is a scientist and Hindu. I am a Christian. Write from home. Never completed college after I broke my neck. And yet, we love each other like sisters.
Then there's my friend Mel. She has cerebral palsy. She teaches me something new every time we are together. She stretches me like nobody else does.
My hubby has friends he's made at the University of Minnesota from nearly every country around the world. We've hosted precious Muslim families and have been invited to their place for dinner as well. And it's been a gift.
To hear their hearts. To listen. To dialogue. And to love them right where they are at despite our differences of faith.
If you only have friends that think like you, you don't know what you're missing. Having unlikely friendships awakens something new in you.
Jesus is the perfect example of this. He sat around the table with folks that others would have been uncomfortable to be around. He listened to their hearts. Cared about their needs. Loved them right where they were at.
If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. — Luke 6:32, 33
If Jesus did it, you can too.
Take a risk. Reach out to those who are different than you, and you will be immensely blessed.
Sweet friendships refresh the soul and awaken our hearts with joy, for good friends are like the anointing oil that yields the fragrant incense of God's presence. — Proverbs 27:9
ps *If you'd like to visit the peony farm check this out! https://www.swensongardens.com