Bloom

I used to hate change.

We get so caught up in the way things are now, the state that we live in and our circumstances. Sometimes it’s so wonderful that we don’t want a thing to change, and sometimes it’s so difficult that we despair of relief. And sometimes it’s a rut, and when we are in it, we can’t imagine anything big enough or bold enough to change it. We are convinced that whatever state we’re in is going to last, barring catastrophe.

But that’s a false view. The world is always changing. Wherever we are is not where we’re going to be, not eventually. We can’t guess how the change will come, either. The world is far too large for us to know. Even when things seem static, they are changing, slowly and subtly as the sky fades from blue to black, or brightens into sunrise. Even if at no point is there a line, at no point is there a division, change is going on all the time. In fact, change isn’t even the right word: it’s transformation. And you find yourself at the other end with something totally different.

If you watch plants throughout the year, you’ll see that they come and go with their seasons. Right now, the daffodils are making an effort; the crocuses are already up. Tulips will follow, then the irises. Sometime in June, it’ll be daylilies, everywhere from peach to yellow to red so deep it’s nearly black. Then tiger lilies and stargazers. Then that bushy something-or-other that you mistook for a lily that just didn’t bloom will die off in a tangle of brown leaves, and you’ll clear it all away, thinking that maybe it’ll do something next year, and out of the blue it’ll put up a dozen stems that will flower pink. Surprise lilies. The clemantis last through much of the summer, and in the fall the asters will bloom. Each has its season. Each puts up stems, leaves, and buds. Each flowers in its time, first small, then bright, then fading away and going to seed.

I love living in a place that has all four seasons, and all four seasons so enthusiastically. This winter we had a day that didn’t get about 0F. This summer there will be a week or two where it tops out at 100F. (roughly -15C to 35C for you metric folks.) Each season has its advantages. Each season has its beauties. If they didn’t change, I wouldn’t appreciate them. I can stand the cold because I know there will be heat, and vice versa, and the unfolding of each fills me with anticipation.

That’s our lives, and each step, however much it resembles the one before, isn’t the same. My nephews are just starting their lives, and the world is full of wonder and danger to them. They retreat to the safety of their parents’ arms, and nearly every day has something new and interesting for them. Me and my siblings and peers are at the young end of adulthood. Some of us are putting down roots. Some of us are still finding new paths to blaze. We’re independent now, and have some idea of how things work, yet possibilities abound. My parents are free of child-rearing now, and can enjoy their grandchildren. They’re looking forward and planning for retirement. My grandparents are in twilight, but as anybody knows who loves a sunset, twilight has its own beauties, and the approaching night is not to be feared. Each season begins and ends, each blossom has its own pattern, each is different.

We cling so hard to the way things are, at any given time. Even if they’re not good. We grasp at dead flowers, fading brown in our hands, wishing for when they were bright. Or we hover over the swelling buds, anxious for the next blossom, the next new scent and color. All the while we’re surrounded by blossoms of every size and shape. We can remember the past ones with gratefulness, and wait for the new ones with eagerness, but we should not ignore the ones we have now, and appreciate every stage of their unfolding.

I do not know how the flower of my life will unfold. I can see where I am now, I can see where I’ve been, but I have no idea what the next season will bring. I know that my God is good, and loves me, and has quite a lot in store, and I can’t guess what it is. I know there will be hardship: there will be storms and late frosts and early frosts and weeds and things that eat leaves. Suffering is a given. And I know that I will do things wrong, and will fail sometimes. But any given failure is not the whole picture, and a hailstorm isn’t the end. My God can redeem anything, and will bring things back to full bloom. Even if I am taken out of the picture, the garden will go on flowering. And that is… pretty much all I need to know.

Change is coming. That alone never changes.

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