Unlike nature, we fight reality

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 30, 2011

There it was glowing white when the headlights hit it as I turned into the driveway. Hanging on a limb midway the bush was one lone gardenia bloom. A damp wind moved it back and forth on this cold night.

“Why in the world is there a bloom on that bush this time of year?” I said, stopping the car to look up through the branches. “Doesn’t it know that it is almost winter, not spring?”

As I wondered about the out-of-sync bush, the words of a favorite song popped into my head. “Every December Sky” is a beautiful ballad written by Beth Nielsen Chapman, who, if you’ve read this column for a while you know, is one of my favorite singer/songwriters.

I whispered the first lines as I opened the car door and walked to the gardenia bush.

“Every December sky must lose its faith in leaves and dream of the spring inside the trees…”

What a profound thought wrapped in beautiful lyrics. As I thought about those words, I felt an awakening, a stirring that had to do with faith, and what it means when we say we “have” faith.

Every winter the sky loses faith in leaves, releasing its hold on something that is past its season. Yet even in the letting go, there is the dream, the trust that spring lives inside the barren branches.

Wow, I thought, how often that is where we find ourselves — faced with letting go of something or someone whose season is past. And how difficult it can be to dream of and trust in what lies beyond that farewell. Those are the days when living our faith becomes real.

This is the time of year when nature bids farewell to what came to life in spring, flourished in summer and reached its fullness in the fall harvest. It is a natural cycle as ancient as life itself.

We, like nature, live in the cycle of comings and goings, but unlike nature, we often push against and struggle with that reality, desiring to hold to spring beyond the appointed time for it to pass.

I reached up and pulled the branch holding the bloom toward me. As it came closer, I smelled the perfume it creates, the reason it is my favorite flower, and I remembered more lines from the song.

“We’re walking to paradise, the angels lend us shoes. ‘Cause all that we own — we’ll someday lose — and heaven is not so far outside this womb of words; with every rose that blooms my soul is assured. It’s just like a song I’ve known, yet still unheard…”

There it was once more; the idea of letting go, having a willingness to wait with assurance, which is not easy in a world that wants to know everything and have everything instantly.

Again, lyrics came to mind, words that say so much in a few lines.

“How heavy the empty heart. How light the heart that’s full. Sometimes I have to trust what I can’t know…”

Oh and there seems to be so much we can’t know, so many unanswered questions about things that happen in life. I guess that brings us again to faith, to trusting that what we can’t know has a perfect answer that reveals itself at the perfect time. It comes down, I guess, to knowing that having a heart that is full and light means making space for fullness by releasing things in their proper time.

I snapped the end of the branch freeing the bloom from the bush and I placed it in water beside my kitchen sink. Before it turns brown, I will enjoy its beauty and its fragrance. And appreciate the gift of an unexpected flower sent to remind me that the dream of spring lives inside the trees that sway under every December sky.