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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 is cold—very cold—and it is still winter.

Somehow that matters little in my warm study when enveloped within Winter Dreams, the subtitle of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 1 in G minor (1866) played by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Yuri Temirkanov. The first movement, fragile and effervescent, evokes inchoate scenes. Like hesitant sparrows, words surface—putting something out there that wasn’t there before:

Moonlit snow-scapes—wind-startled frozen lakes—flocked mountain pines—brush-filled meadows—gust-sculpted cathedrals—critter-tracks meandering over hills—color-splashes angling down slopes and crisscrossing paths.

Beneath this frozen world, deep smiles thaw my imagination; trickles of water create wiggle-room for my breathing. Like the first morning of creation, Beauty still evokes such things through Tchaikovsky’s Winter Dreams.

Joy surfaces, again and again. We’ve only to receive it.

 

 

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