A couple posts back I wrote of a humorous way to veil the story of an uncle who met with death via the electric chair. I suggested making a puzzle of that skeleton in your closet. I admit, that was a dodge. My skeleton was rattling its cage, but I ignored it for the moment and told it to be still and hide. Behind my smile. What is hiding behind your smile? To remedy the joking attitude I offer an essay I wrote about the more serious topic of a sad occasion. I am vague, I do not tell all, I respect the privacy of all involved. It’s more about a transformation. From bitter heart to joyful. If there’s a story you need to tell, for your own healing, for venting, for sharing a burden, you don’t need to tell all. I wrote this years ago about a Christmas gift. Worry not, my smile today is pretty real.
I was promised paper whites; tall, thin, elegant, spring green stems and flowers in the dead of winter. The picture showed a spray of delicate white petals, narcissus. I got the bulbs for Christmas so I can have a prelude to spring in the wintertime. Dead, flaky, brown lumps with pointy ends waiting to sprout; what kind of magic is this? Not dead, just dormant. Want magic? Add water! I opened a bag of fragrant peat and soil and was transported months ahead to springtime. I planted the bulbs with tender white tips poking through the peat and put them in the cold garage for a couple weeks.
With upheaval, disruption; ripped from a comfortable bed, those bulbs came to me. My upheaval in life was similar, once complacent in my comfortable life. Sure there were undercurrents, perhaps like the squirrels digging nearby, vibrating the soil, threatening to eat the bulbs. The shovel dug those bulbs; exposure, roots cut off.
The bulbs were packaged and dormant until I planted them in soil, added water and stored them in the cold garage. As long as I harbored anger, resentment, my heart too stayed in cold storage. Darkness reigned, pain, rage, unforgiving spirit.
I finally went out to the garage and brought the bulbs into the warmth of a pseudo spring. I watered them and waited and watched. With God’s patient watering of my blighted spirit, I humbly hoped for change. I imagined the water coursing up the new root system, a life force surging to the tips of the bulbs which were reaching toward the sun streaming in our kitchen window. They grew and turned green, up and up they grew; new life in the dead of winter. God gives water to the soul, the battered heart. It was a battle, the ugliness of resentment, my pride, my pain. What was real, what was true?
If a plant can have a false start too early in the spring, the promise of sunshine turning harsh with a frost nipping tentative new growth, so too did my heart balk with false starts. My mind was tormented by negativity, ice on the tendrils of new hope, a false start stymied by unbidden thoughts. But as the sunshine and warmth of spring becomes constant, so too did healing come. Warm tears healed and purged, my heart thawed to behold new trust.
My potted bulbs graced my kitchen windowsill. The tender shoots of green developed sheer little packets with blossoms tightly folded within. I knew in just days those green buds would split open, powered by a mysterious life force, an inevitable, transformation, amazing to witness. Soon the petals would unfurl, bask in the light, the ugliness of the bulb forgotten, the tender newness of a flower would behold the sun.
Those bulbs took weeks to transform, given good soil, water and sunshine as I witnessed a great awakening, drab bulbs to fragrant flowers. Alas, it took long months for my heart to shed the bitterness that threatened to condemn me to a life blighted by resentment. Forgiveness was the life force, powered by prayer. Sunshine always? Of course not, but the ebb and flow of life is again mostly positive, a bit more tentative to be sure, a bit more suspect at times… but I once again can see sunshine and rejoice!