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“This is the first daffodil that’s bloomed in my garden. I wanted you to have it,” said Eunice, the hospice chaplain as she handed it to me, its stem still bearing March’s chill. It was time for our Thursday morning visit, ongoing for over two years. Her smiling eyes met mine as she unzipped her jacket and followed me into the kitchen for a vase.

Her gift stirred me deeply—the harbinger of seasonal change ushering the return of color to washed-out landscapes, sonorous with the depleted energies of my old body. Yet, elation coursed through my hands while placing the daffodil in a vase filled with water.  

The plant’s six yellow petals and fluted cup or corona, though snipped from its earth-home, will gladden my psyche for days ahead. A close look within the corona reveals the plant’s reproductive system: six male stamens, surrounding the female pistil. Such flowering dates from the time of the Romans carrying these plants to Britain. In my perception, such longevity attests to the ongoing mystery of creation, that it is good, from the book of Genesis.

Despite spring’s hesitant warm-ups, daffodils have quickened my spirit, even more so this year. Such blooming splits apart their protective covering or spathe: such will be my experience, in time—some spring.

It came unexpectedly: the blackened sky, the gale-strength winds, the spattering downpour, the truncated tree limbs and shrubs, the flickering of my electrical power—light-dark-light-dark light-dark—an interval of light, then more episodes of flickering, then light. It was seven P.M., supper completed in my kitchen. I prayed. Mercifully, the power did hold fast, supporting the oxygen concentrator for the night.

Later, this metaphor surfaced. The uncertainty between the dark-light flickers mirrored the “Yes-Buts” that occur when not fully conscious and turned away from God’s direction for the next breath. Like sitting on the fulcrum of a seesaw, going nowhere, I’m adrift within instinctual quicksand, rife with the seven deadly sins: pride, anger, greed, lust, gluttony, envy, and sloth—integral to my humanness. 

Another’s suggestion can easily trigger my “Yes-But” reaction, for that’s what it is—not a response. Imbalance sets in. Anger, pride, and sloth take center stage banked by monstrous fears. My “Yes,” spoken behind a mask of subterfuge, serves to placate the friend’s feelings for the offered suggestion, while the “But,” oozing with pride, reveals my self-centered ego. Sloth clouds my judgment with resistance to change, especially if it involves sacrifice.

Living in the indecisiveness of “Yes-Buts” deepens quagmire existence. I know. I’ve been there. No effort, no spiritual growth.

There is a way out, as I’ve often blogged: the Twelve Steps of any recovery program. Discovery of a Higher Power reverses such “Yes-But” reactions as we clean up our inner world with transforming grace and become honest. It works if you work it. light-color returns.

August’s riot is underway: black-eyed susans with clusters of golden-blackness erupting from formal gardens, country roadsides, and cracks in pavements. Hearty, boisterous, the wildflowers appear like gossips, their petelled heads leaning toward one another, with occasional breezes disturbing the configurations. At intervals, snappish rainstorms pelt the flowers, affixed to thick hairy stems. With the sun’s reappearance, the resulting mishmash slowly diminishes, and the gossips resume their chatter, with even more verve.

With the advent of autumn, black-eyed susans lose their petals, their cone centers hardening with seeds, with promise of spring’s proliferation. Even their colors lend their gold to maples, aspens, and tulip trees; to waning sunlight outlining blackened limbs.

And another year passes. This has been a good one.

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