Thursday, May 14, 2015

Miracles in bloom

Years ago a friend gave me a peace lily that she no longer wanted.  It was a little scraggly with no blooms in sight, but needed a good home, so I eagerly placed it in a warm, sunny window in the dining room.  Alas, one of my cats thought it would make a nice afternoon (or early morning) snack and incessantly nibbled the foliage until I moved it out of harm's way.  Winter came and went.  Summer arrived and I found a great spot for the lily on my front porch in the hopes that it would encourage blossoms to sprout, but it was not meant to be.  For nearly two years I kept the lily watered and fed, all the while waiting for signs of new growth, but was only rewarded with luscious green foliage.
Oh well, I thought.  It'll bloom when it's ready...or not at all.  For over the years I've learned to just let things grow in their own way and in their own time.

Gardening season is upon us in northwest Ohio and it's been well worth the wait.  I spent the better part of Tuesday hauling two cubic yards of compost to fill my brand new raised bed in the backyard, and had enough to fertilize all of my gardens as well as share an abundance with the neighbor next door so he can enjoy growing his own greens this summer.  I love the incredibly hard work, the physical stamina it takes to shovel and haul and hoe and dig.  By the end of the day, I'm exhausted, but elated.  And it's been a powerfully peaceful respite in the midst of editing and rewriting to weed and water, to pick a pretty bouquet to bring inside, to marvel at how a light spring rain can make little sprouts magically appear overnight.   
I love springtime because, as Sapphire, one of the characters in The Lace Makers, says, "In spring, everthing and everone get to be reborn brand new."  This year in particular finds me blooming where I'm planted in unexpected ways.  I find I'm no longer interested in recreating gardening seasons of the past.  Sure I've saved seeds from previous harvests and have planted or shared nearly all of them, but I'm more invested in how they'll grow in the light of a new year and in the warmth of the replenished soil.  
          All over my neighborhood trees are being cut down.  New sidewalks are being put in.  Yards are being torn up in the process, but not one flower in my garden has been touched by all the mayhem.  It's as if each one can withstand all the enormous change and still bloom brightly, just as they are meant to be.  For their roots are deep and solid, strong and steady, and they can still grow in the midst of intense and continual commotion...just as I can.
That's a miracle in and of itself.
        It's been a chaotic month, but the light at the end of the tunnel is finally bathing me in its warmth as I, too, have been reborn.  Whenever I release a book or a novel, there's always a sadness, a place of bittersweet letting go, and this time around, I find myself withdrawing into silence a little more than I have in the past.  It's as if I need to return to my own roots and gather strength for whatever's next so that I can move forward from a place of grace and peace and integrity. 
What better place to renew my strength than in my own backyard?  One of my neighbors calls it "The Garden of Eden," and she's right...it's my little sanctuary here in the heart of Toledo, a place where I can relax and renew my spirit.  It's a miracle really...what the earth can do this time of year, and I find myself wondering how I will push up from the dark recesses of the underground and grow tall in the light of new beginnings.

As I was finishing the last draft of The Lace Makers on Mother's Day, I took a break to water the houseplants.  Gently moving the green leaves of the peace lily, I saw a single stalk with a white bud rising up to reveal itself.  After all this time, how magical it has been to be met with a miracle in bloom as find myself at the end of a journey that I imagine is only the first step in creating something brand new and ultimately life-changing. 
In the past I was afraid of it, but now I embrace it...for as Anais Nin once wrote, And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.