Long before he laid down earth’s foundations,
he had us in mind,
had settled on us as the focus of his love,
to be made whole and holy by his love.
Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family
through Jesus Christ.
(What pleasure he took in planning this!)
He wanted us to enter into the celebration
of his lavish gift-giving
by the hand of his beloved Son.
Ephesians 1:4-6 The Message
Why am I convinced that you and I are God’s focus? Because of saffron crocus!
What?! Shelley, there isn’t a bit of botany in this passage. How are you convinced by crocus?
First, I see God’s lavishness named, calling to mind things exotic and extravagant. Next I see “by the hand,” which always makes me think of garden work…and I got to thinking about saffron, which is so costly because the spice threads are harvested lavishly by hand. Next, of course, the rhyme! “Focus” and crocus, always an instant delight for me…you are usually on to something when you come to a play on words in God’s Word! Finally, “beloved Son,” such an endearing description, reflected in the back and forth wooing in Song of Songs….the Bible book where saffron IS written. And the Words seem to come together whole.*
Growing Saffron Crocus
These luxuriant purple flowers began appearing one-by-one in our garden last week, just in time for entering into Thanksgiving’s celebration and the feast of side dishes accompanying this grateful day. After planning to grow this savory spice since what now seems long, long ago (though it was only since last summer), they became the whole focus of my week…even though there was plenty else to do! Yet the burst of colorful petals and vibrant, contrasting stigmas made me giddy with anticipation, eagerly watching for the next blossom-burst.
Click to See Renee’s Garden Saffron Crocus Growing Guide
Growing them myself—going through the intensive process of waiting for each bulb to emerge, each small cup of petals to unfold, plucking the pricey, sparing stigmas by hand, and saving them to dry as “threads,” a flower at a time to fill a recipe’s ½ teaspoonful—brought me understanding by hand and by heart. I am lavish (ridiculously, really… and probably beyond prudent) with my time for these little beauties. And I see in small measure how God is lavish with his love for us.
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!
And that is what we are!
1 John 3:1 NIV
Song of Songs Spice
By no coincidence, saffron’s appearance in the Bible is found in Song of Songs, in the spicy love banter of lover and beloved:
Your plants are an orchard of pomegranates with choice fruits, with henna and nard, nard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon, with every kind of incense tree, with myrrh and aloes and all the finest spices.
Song of Songs 4:13-14 NIV
Take in the luxury of this list—aloes or eaglewood, a rare, exotic aroma from the Far East; myrrh, worth its weight in gold, brought to Jesus at his birth; nard or spikenard, the perfume that Mary poured out on Jesus’ head. The faraway fragrances are seated next to cinnamon; common to our everyday, common to this day in Thanksgiving’s pumpkin and apple pies. These are the company saffron keeps to reveal to us what God’s love is like: exquisite, alluring, treasured, constant. May you be blessed to focus on the extravagance of his love for you!
I’ll make a list of God’s gracious dealings, all the things God has done that need praising, All the generous bounties of God, his great goodness to the family of Israel— Compassion lavished, love extravagant. He said, “Without question these are my people, children who would never betray me.” So he became their Savior. In all their troubles, he was troubled, too. He didn’t send someone else to help them. He did it himself, in person. Out of his own love and pity he redeemed them. He rescued them and carried them along for a long, long time.
Isaiah 63:7-9 The Message
Read about saffron in God’s Word for Gardeners Bible in “Bursting into Bloom,” Day 1 in the Garden Work section on Planting Pots, page 802
Learn more about saffron crocus in our Plant Guide:
*This is an example of PaRDeS, the Hebrew method of “Walking Through the Orchard,” click the link to learn more.
Saffron crocus bulbs purchased from Renee’s Garden, ordered in early summer for fall planting www.reneesgarden.com/products/saffron-bulbs (affiliate link)
©2018 Shelley S. Cramm