We will travel to Ft Lauderdale before too long to visit with Maria. We have very intentionally decided to use all that time with her alone. Because of her circumstances, I anticipate we will be back in Fort Lauderdale with some regularity and will have other opportunities to visit with friends we love and miss, but this time, it is just our little family unit, coming together for a very few days.
There are some trees in bloom here in Alabama. Though they are far more muted, they make me recall the other, far more spectacular trees of South Florida, the Royal Poincianas. As our days were slipping away in Fort Lauderdale last year, I used to drive around trying to see the Royal Poincianas with enough intent, enough attention, enough gratitude, to make those images last for always. Seeing them come into bloom each year had been one of the absolutely wonderful gifts of living in that part of the world and I had anticipated I would miss them.
Now, the knowledge that I will probably see at least some in bloom, stirs some real ambivalence for me. Turns out that they are now associated with a lot of leave-takings. It was in the season of their bloom that my mother died–four years ago on June 5th; we moved Maria into BARC, 3 years ago on June 5th. I left the ministry at St Ambrose on June 8th a year ago. No small amount of grief wells up along with the joy of recalling their beauty.
Home for 3 days between trips, I have spent a big part of my last two days out in the garden, tending to the plants and flowers that fill my new life. On Sunday, the liturgical year will pivot to the “Season after Pentecost”, with its rich and lovely hues of green. The growing season is upon us that mirrors all the growth happening in our garden. It seems many of our vegetable plants grow several inches from one day to the next; blossoms have given way to small fruit that are also swelling and growing daily. There is such abundance all around me.
Again, the paradox, the “both-and-ness” to this time. The abundance makes the sense of loss more piercing, in a way. The abundance also requires more of my attention, my energy, my work, so the days pass quickly and sleep comes fast and deep at night. The beauty and goodness of where I am now will not be denied or overlooked. It carries the invitation that I acknowledge the sadness and not surrender to it, carry it lightly and set it down to hold a sweet clucking hen, an armful of flowers or a post digger, shovel and compost to dig space for a gorgeous new rose someone gave me.