I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in. -George Washington Carver
I have a beautiful Saucer Magnolia tree that is growing right outside of my living room window. I’ve been watching its movements since September paying attention to its structure, colors, new buds, etc. Each season brings such delight because I can watch this tree transform before my very eyes….each week something new is happening. In September I watched its thick leathery leaves waddle in the wind and reflect the sun. In November, I watched it turn varying shades of yellow and brown. All winter I’ve been admiring its structure---the roots, the branches, the trunk---all of its turns and bends. Even at the turn of the New Year, I started to see new life peeking out—little buds were starting to form. I’ve watched these buds grow bigger and bigger week after week…anticipating their reveal. This tree was doing its thing…going through the same cycles it has been moving through for the last 70 years or so. On track…on course….steady. Dutifully, it knew what it had to do and it knew what came next.
And then last week came.
It was an unseasonable 70 degrees all week in Louisville, hitting a record high of 80 degrees on Friday. And while everyone was wearing shorts, taking walks, talking about global warming, and driving with their windows down, all I could think about was my tree. It started blooming….in all its gloriousness. The buds just burst through with bold flowers. Beautiful shades of purple, violet, and white. The petals had smooth textures and sultry curves. Looking out my window was a sight. I took delight in this tree, but also was anxious for what it had to endure for its future. It’s still February and it had bloomed too early. It had been misled. The tree had been so steady, so confident all these seasons and now I watched it in full bloom bear itself fully--in its most vulnerable state--to the elements.
And then last night came.
There was a morning frost on my car and just as I had feared, many of the flowers on the tree had wilted. The edges of the petals browned. One night. One frost. This tree opened herself up and she had been burned. I’m now watching her pick up the pieces, reorienting herself into this new reality, still going about the business of growing in the wake of her set back.
These are the risks that come with the business of living. We also are exposed to the elements as we bear ourselves to the world. Sometimes we take a chance and we fail. Sometimes we open ourselves up and get hurt. Sometimes we are talked about, lied to, or let down. Sometimes we lose, get burned, miscalculate, underestimate. It’s humbling.
Yet faith, like the Saucer Magnolia outside my window, gives us courage to get up again, to keep going, to try, to reorient, to trust in spite of the “elements” in life that come our way. Armed with a fierce faith in life, my tree thrives and she continues to stay open to receive the good the Universe has for her…the sun, the rain, the soil. No frosty night or torrid thunderstorm will stop her from thriving. She’ll stay open to receive and she’ll rise again. Just like you will.