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Afternoon breezes massage the creamy tepals of the blossom, atop the southern magnolia tree in my backyard; its wonder incites my awe, humbles me before Creator God. This first flowering should not have happened, given last year’s winter bite. Yet, there it is, and another thumb-sized bud emerges on a lower limb. How I had doubted the effectiveness of those biweekly waterings with the soaker hose.

A closer look reveals two rows of four-inch tepals preening within the sun’s rays; its gold-colored carpels in the center resemble the turret of a mosque; its glossy leathery leaves contrast with newer ones, in a lighter shade of green; its lemony fragrance piques my spirit. The tree, itself, appears fuller, more pear-shaped than when it was planted.

Days pass. I’m still moved by the blossom’s presence in my psyche, as if it wants to share something with me. I wait.

Then while washing dishes, it comes: the pristine blossom resembles a virgin soul. Its cupped shape suggests the sacred feminine; its whiteness, purity, simplicity; its velvety petals, unruffled smoothness; its wind and insect resistance, fierce integrity that bodes no intrusion.

It just is, a gift bestowed upon those who seek glimpses into the deeper realm that surrounds us, and with it, seamless joy. I give thanks …

 

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How often will an April freeze scorch a lilac shrub of its regal display? Or brown a full-blown magnolia tree, reducing it to widow’s weeds? Or blister-winds knife blossoms from apple trees and pastiche the ground with snowy whiteness? Or drenching rains wash away tender roots of newly planted annuals? Such losses burn, leave a sour taste.

Such feelings glimmer beneath the opening lines of T. S. Eliot’s elegy, The Waste Land (1922): “April is the cruelest month, breeding/Lilacs out of the dead land mixing/ Memory and desire, stirring/Dull roots with spring rain.”

It’s all about yearning, about holding onto glimpses of Beauty, whether experienced in nature, in loved ones, or in pets. Within these richly nuanced moments, we catch our breath, perhaps pick up pen or watercolor brush and set to work. For students of such industry, a trail emerges that evidences the expression of unstoppable Life, despite continuous setbacks, even death. The challenge is to begin, yet again, hopefully wiser until the next in-breaking of Beauty that stirs our roots with spring rain.

 

It was happening again—outside my study window.

Like hard hats, nubs tipped the branches of my old lilac bush, caught up in the play of trickster winds. Over the winter months, the nubs appeared dormant, as if pondering their eventual burgeoning. Overcast skies, drenching rains, and bone-chilling temperatures imprisoned them in darkness.

But not so this morning—There was a change: the swollen nubs were splitting apart; beneath the shriveled skins glimmered a new green, and with more growth still to come, regal purple blossoms to delight the senses.

It seems that many life forms originate within buds. Once their protective function is served, they split apart and wither. For a time, greening plants, shrubs, and trees flourish, then begin to lose color, fade, then produce buds for the next season. The same holds true for the offspring of humans and animals.

In a related sense, I believe that the aging body also functions like a bud. When life’s energies and responsibilities begin to wane, the spirit seeks an increasing solitude within the womblike darkness of the body: therein, to remember, to pray, to forgive, to give thanks, and to embrace the Unknown.

This continues to be my experience—as I await my transition, whenever, however…

 

 

 

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