Ceci N’est Pas Une Tulipe


I left my job to begin my maternity leave with my first child exactly in the spring eleven years ago. And eleven years ago these tulips were blooming in this very same spot in our neighbor’s yard.

It was during this “respite” from the everyday chaos of work and life to stay home with and nurture my first born that I noticed for the first time how a tulip is.
How it moves.
How it behaves.

Have you ever noticed this?

I pointed it out to my younger child as we left for school the other day. I said to him, “Do you see those two yellow flowers over there? How do they look right now?”

“They’re closed,” he said.

“Right. They are closed. I want you to remember what they look like. Let’s look at them again when we come home after school.” And we went on with our day.

Tulips, I learned during this “slower period” of my life, close their petals at night, yet during the day not only open to reveal their stamens but actually turn their heads toward the sun to follow the light.

By the time we drove home that afternoon from school, there they were – open and turned in a new direction.

I didn’t learn this from a book. No one taught it to me in a class. I had no knowledge handed down from prior generations about the nature of tulips. I learned this by slowing down, noticing, and paying attention.

This was a turning point for me – in my journey, in my level of awareness, in noticing. It’s how I learned to pay attention, to use silence and my senses to attend to what we are often too busy and distracted to see. To make the invisible visible. I imagine this is the case for many people. I wonder how many other seemingly insignificant yet transformative bits of wisdom there are lurking in plain sight waiting to be noticed.


I’m unaware of any greater meaning that was intended when my neighbor planted these flowers in her yard. I wonder if she knows that they have been more than merely tulips to me. That these are not tulipsThese are the means by which we connect with wonder and awe, learn to open ourselves and turn in a new direction in order to see with new eyes what has been right in front of us all along.

I wonder if she knows how her small act of planting has grown into so much more.


Copyright 2013 © Christian Caine. All rights reserved.

This entry was posted on Friday, April 26th, 2013 at 7:22 pm and is filed under Awareness, Noticing, Paying Attention, Spiritual Awakening, Tulips. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


  1. scott caine says:

    Very nice…lovely in fact. I like to find the very first leaf of spring.

    ... on July April 26th, 2013
  2. Christy Caine says:

    What a fun tradition!

    ... on July April 28th, 2013
  3. varsha says:

    an amazing write-up…. a blogger myself, i am glad to have come across this post of yours…..
    in so few word you have showcased such a deep thought…. kudos to you…. ^_^

    ... on July April 27th, 2013
  4. Christy Caine says:

    Thank you, Varsha. What a lovely thing to say.

    ... on July April 28th, 2013
  5. britmys says:

    Since I was a little girl, my favorite flower (other than perhaps a pansy) has been the tulip. When I was small I told people that though most people preferred a rose, I found the simplicity of a tulip spoke to my heart. In the same way, I found pearls more beautiful than diamonds.

    ... on July April 27th, 2013
  6. Christy Caine says:

    There’s something about it’s simplicity that reminds me of grace. Thank you for sharing this.

    ... on July April 28th, 2013
  7. Deborah Lindsay says:

    I love tulips and I love your writing, wisdom sister.

    ... on July April 27th, 2013
  8. Christy Caine says:

    Wisdom sister…I’ll hold on to that for a good, long time. Thank you, friend.

    ... on July April 28th, 2013
  9. Janet says:

    Early this morning I picked up a friend for a standing Saturday morning breakfast that I am almost always too busy to attend. In her front yard in downtown Westerville she has the most beautiful, sleepy little garden which includes a large patch of tulips-all colors. I thought of this posting but was distracted by the gathering of friends that had arrived. When we returned from our time together, the tulips had opened and had turned towards the sun. So we spent the next several minutes standing in the garden while I read this posting aloud. What a wonderful way to start an otherwise hectic weekend. Thanks so much for that.

    ... on July April 27th, 2013
  10. Christy Caine says:

    Janet, What a thoughtful thing to do. Thank you so much for sharing this with me.

    ... on July April 28th, 2013
  11. David Hett says:

    Lovely, Christy, and well said; as Jim Finley talks about the “divinity of what just is,” you’ve given illustrative expression to it. Thank you.

    ... on July April 27th, 2013
  12. Christy Caine says:

    David, Thank you. What an enormous compliment I hope to grow into being worthy of.

    ... on July April 28th, 2013

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