I look out my bedroom window, and the sight that greets me arrests my vision. The dogwood in our backyard is revealing its delicate and fragile blooms. Nestled between historic houses in an old city that hugs the mountains of Virginia, Spring is here. The trees are coming out of winter…as many in the country and the world withdraw and hold their breath as the winds of something else passes through—a virus that many of us didn’t take seriously until it showed us, like the blooms on the ends of tiny stems, our own fragility and how delicate our own lives truly are.
During a recent evening, we took a slow stroll to take in the sight of the blooming cherry trees that line the streets of downtown. It was so quiet. No cars or people were about. The breeze was blowing steady, and the blossoms danced along sweeping, graceful branches that dip over sidewalks while pink petals floated on the air.
In Japan, the cherry blossom has very specific meanings that symbolize the nature of life. The cherry blossom, sakura, marks the time of Spring—that the harshness of winter is over, and a time of renewal is approaching. The flowers are so stunning, one can’t help but pause and take in their beauty. And the people of Japan do take this time to pause and celebrate. Hanami is a time for family and friends to gather with each other, and they do so beneath the blossoms of these magnificent trees. Hanami literally means “watching blossoms.”
And after about two weeks, the blossoms begin to fall, creating the “sakura snow” that blankets the ground and is carried off in the breeze. And during this time, the flowers represent life’s ephemerality—that all life is in transition. They call this, mono no aware, “the pathos of things.” They believe that when you are aware of the impermanence of nature, you become aware of how significant these moments are.
We are all experiencing difficulties right now in some form. Even though some may weather this particular storm better, each of us is facing our very own unique difficulties. I look out my bedroom window and reflect on my own fragility. My health has struggled. We are struggling financially. These things take a toll on our relationship. I miss the friends and family we are hundreds of miles away from. I see the blossoms opening, and I remember, “To everything there is a season…a time to be born and a time to die…a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance…” Book of Ecclesiastes
This, too, shall pass.
The blossoms outside my window will fall, revealing the growth of new things. The trees are coming out of winter, marked by the blooms of spring that herald the growth of leaves. The young leaves will darken with the life giving chlorophyll that sustains them, and the trees will exhale the fresh oxygen for us to breathe in.
“And why do you worry? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet, not even King Solomon in his splendor was dressed like one of these. If God clothes the grass of the fields, which is here today and gone tomorrow, how much more will God clothe you of little faith… Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will care for itself.” Book of Matthew
I will try to rest in the assurance that each day brings something new. I cannot accomplish anything by worrying. I look outside my window, and I see the harmony of nature, and I remember, we are strong together. We can help one another through this. The love and support we show one another can pull us through these difficult times. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, or the next, the weeks ahead or even the months. But I know that love heals. Whether we find a healed body, a healed economy, or a healed heart, we will be stronger on the other side of winter if we give to each other the most important thing we need—love.
“…the only thing that keeps people truly safe and happy is love…that’s where men get their courage, where countries get their strength, and where God grants us miracles. And in the absence of love…there is nothing in this world worth fighting for.” –The War
I look outside my window, and I remember how much I can truly be grateful for. The window lets me see that the house I sit in protects me from the cold of winter and the heat of summer. The roof above the window protects me from the damp of rain and the burn of sun. I may not see my friends or family outside my window, but I feel their love in my heart. I have a partner who stands beside me, who loves and encourages me. I know that in the face of hardship and cruelty, people are doing good things. And I know that even though I may be unwell, this body was given to me for a specific amount of time. And what I choose to do with that time is up to me.
“‘…I wish none of this had happened.’
‘So do all that live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world…besides the will of evil… And that is an encouraging thought.’” -J.R. Tolkien
Take heart and have courage in this difficult time. Pause to remember the things of today may not be here tomorrow. Remember the love we have for each other. And embrace the beauty you find.