Friday, April 30, 2010

The Earth and What it Holds for the Telling

There is a tree in the corner of our cloister and it blooms every year, just before spring. It is in bloom now, with hundreds of beautiful pink blossoms. Usually, the blossoms quickly fall to the ground but this year they have remained on the tree, giving it a full brilliance of deep and light pinks. One of the monks said that the best view of the tree was to be had from a third floor window, where you can look down and into the tree and the petals fill your field of vision. Nothing to see but abundant beauty.
A few days ago, I walked through the cloister and noticed another tree, across from the one in full and abiding bloom. This particular tree had lost its petals earlier and some were strewn on the ground. I looked down at them and since I had my camera I took pictures of them. They were already fading, but had a beauty all their own, a different kind of beauty as they lay dying, waiting again to be absorbed into the earth and regenerated as some kind of new life, or perhaps become food for small creatures, or a smidgen of nest stuffing. Nature seems to assure that nothing of its largesse goes to waste.
Not long ago I was on my way to Wichita and drove through Arkansas. I drove through a place called Fort Smith and realized that I was driving along the same highway on which my nephew Peter lost his life when the van in which he was riding was forced off the highway by the reckless and never found drive of an eighteen wheeler. That was many years ago. Peter was thirteen years old when he died. I thought of him for miles, remembering him as he was as if he was with me in the car. Maybe he was. I hope so. My thoughts wandered, to his mom – my sister Mary, and to her husband, Brian. They were expecting a new grandson any day. He would be born three days a later and would be called Remick, after my dad. Dad died back in 1995. Mom passed on almost two years ago – I have pictures of them holding Peter. I have them here with me.
Meghan, my niece and Remick’s mom, was here a few days ago. The baby is beautiful and his name is officially Remy, for short, just like my dad’s. And I have James, after my twin who died a long time ago, and there is also Hannah Rose, my sister Meg’s daughter, named after our grandmothers. And there are more. Names that live on in new lives, new loves.
We walk and live and love on the firm ground of this earth and there are countless lives who sleep below us. We give back to the earth our dead. And, like all other forms of life, we await a rising, someday. Lots of living things once dead have obvious and other natural uses. For there are nests, and new trees that feed from what is below, and seeds that break open, grow and mature, and then pass on and enter a new cycle. We enjoy the shades and comforts of young and old trees, rising trees and dying trees. We rarely name them.
Easter is a time of wondering about rising. It is a time we ask blessings for each other, a blessing that the joys of Easter be given and given in abundance.
The trees come back. But the earth holds those I have loved and they are not coming back in this life. What is that saying? That they live on in spirit, in the lives of those left behind. Me and you. We carry their names, their looks, their genes, their goodness to us.
But I want to see them again. I hope and want them to rise.
The tree is yet in full and glorious bloom. And, not far from it, there are the fallen petals of a less fortunate, less robust tree whose beauty faded and fell fast. Such is life – we too know the pain of the death of youth, the memories we all have of those we have lost on our highways of life. It hurts to think about them. I want to write that I am grateful that I knew them, was loved by them, and hopefully warmed their lives with whatever love I am capable of giving.
I do not think beauty dies. At least I have never heard about such a thing. It lives on, all around us. Sometimes it is in full bloom, while at other times, right close by, it lies where it has fallen. But its beauty is no less. And its destiny is the same – to become again something beautiful
Beauty has a built in continuity. Something eternal. It always has been and always will be.
Trees have no name. But God calls each of them to rise, bloom, live, fall and rise again.
We humans need name those who come from our bodies and who grow and learn to love and then fall and await a rising to beauty.
I thought of these things on a highway where a boy I loved became a new living beauty. He would delight in a nephew just born to him, a baby whose name is Remy, and is as beautiful as a baby boy can be. I wish him full and lasting bloom. He enters this life gifted with much love, named for a man who loves him from a near yet far place.
I think that the life that is God lives in everything. God lives in trees and is the beauty of their blooming blossoms. God is the beauty of humanity and is our eternal blossom. We may come to the full blossom of our years. Or we may die young. We may rise and shine high, or lie seemingly forgotten on some path of this life.
Easter blessings. We bless each other with a wish – that we may see Easter everywhere, in the young and old, in all that lives and is rising. Beauty lives everywhere, awaiting our recognition, either from a third floor window or with a glance down at our feet. It is everywhere, growing at different rates, brilliant in all its glory, asking us to believe in the eternal life it comes from and to which it all returns.

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