When I was a kid, my mother planned a big garden party, where her yard would be filled with blooming daffodils that she had planted in anticipation. But as the party date approached, the weather stayed cold and no daffodils were even close to blooming.
Yet on the day of the party, our lawn was filled with daffodils, just as she had dreamed. The guests marveled. No garden had any springtime action like that.
But then after the guests went home, the daffodils drooped and my mother went through the yard carefully removing all the cut daffodils she had bought at the florist, that she had painstakingly attached to chopsticks with wire twist ties, and stuck in the ground.
Those daffodils weren't fake, but they were short lived and flimsy, with no bulb under the earth to allow them to survive the rough weather. On the surface and for a short while, they looked like real daffodils but they didn't have enough going on underneath to last.
Sometimes, I think that's how the life of faith works. You can go to the religious flower shop, and pick up a little of this and a little of that, and decorate your life with it.
But deep participation in a tradition greater than our own invention is the bulb under the earth. It will live through the cold, to rise again, long after my self-made bouquet has faded.
[Used with author's permission. Originally posted on HuffingtonPost.com/Religion.]