The Blossom

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.

Swamps of Sadness

I have known many people and never been more alone,
Many hours in their company – no time to be shown,
I gather many things, but nothing fills the hole,
In a house I searched for God, and empty met my soul,
No bleeding wounds afflicted – still feel stabbing pain of knife,
I am still breathing but have lost the pulse of life.


Have you found yourself in a place like this? This place where I have sometimes found myself is when I’ve believed the lie that I Am alone. It’s the feeling I felt as a child, when my mother would ask what was wrong, and I told her that I had the “lonelies.” The Lone Lies would have us believe that We Are alone in our afflictions. This place reminds me of another place depicted in – you can guess where I’m going – The Neverending Story. The place I’m referencing is The Swamps of Sadness: a bog of seemingly no end in sight. Navigating this area of the world is treacherous for our young hero. He ends up losing his closest companion while traveling through, when his friend succumbs to the depths of despair. It’s when you stop moving forward that you begin to sink. You become overwhelmed by sadness which causes you to sink into despair, not having a care for others and not having a care for yourself. You sink into the depths and disappear. You become lost to those that love you.

In my previous post, Embrace the Suck, I discuss the possibility of overcoming obstacles by embracing the situation. There are extreme difficulties that we must navigate in life. By embracing it, we acknowledge the difficulty – we acknowledge our feelings – but we don’t give power to what causes the difficulty. To avoid drowning or sinking into the depths of despair, we embrace what is happening in our life, holding on to what adds value and beauty to our Being. Difficulties aren’t there to ruin us. Difficulties are what bring us to a state of awareness and profound growth and appreciation. We don’t make light of our own or others’ difficulties. We shed light on them so we can see with clear eyes, the situation for what it is, the meaning it adds to our life, and the strength we have to overcome and grow in the experience.

I have all the love I need – if just from one loving friend,
Small amount of time they give me will endure until the end,
I have given up on things for they never do their part,
I found God outside of church in the quiet of my heart,
Wounds are slow to heal, and scars are what I see,
My soul is still Alive and what will always Be

After the young hero, Atreyu, loses his best friend and encounters who they were seeking in the Swamps – he gains information that he doesn’t know what to do with from this ancient creature, Morla. This Being of Apathy is indifferent to Atreyu and his mission, and has no concern for the Nothing that is destroying their world. It encourages Atreyu to give up. Regardless of the difficulty that is revealed to him, Atreyu pushes forward but begins to succumb to the power of despair. All the while he has been on this journey, an enemy has been pursuing him – G’mork. I discuss this dark character in Dark Night of the Soul and who this voice is. As Atreyu is sinking, and G’mork approaches him, he looks up to the heavens and sees light breaking through the clouds. And as “luck” would have it, a dragon descends from the skies above him. Atreyu grabs hold of this dragon and is carried off to safety, narrowly being missed by the large wolf, G’mork. Later, after realizing that the dragon, Falkor, has no plans on eating him, he discovers that this new friend has come to aid him on his quest. Falkor tells Atreyu, “… never give up, and good luck will find you.”

There are times when it seems there are no options but to succumb to despair. The Voice of Lies would have us give up. There are times when we do need a helping hand. I have found help at times in the most unlikely places. In the worst of moments – when all seemed lost – a still, small voice has called out; a light flickered in the distance. Sometimes the voice comes from someone else. Sometimes that voice comes from within, but we have to be receptive to it. We can’t just wait, we have to reach out and grab hold! Someone may throw you a life-preserver or a rope. And sometimes, you have to find that strength within yourself. I promise you, it is there! You must listen and not give in to the Voice of Lies in your head, the voice that tells you: You are not enough; you are too much; no one cares; you are alone.


A belief – be it good or bad – is a powerful thing. And if belief is a power, so is doubt.
The seed of doubt takes root in the mind. Give into doubt, and it will take over. If you pull the weed, it appears gone. But under the earth – where you cannot see – a bit of root left behind will sprout again in time. If belief brings light, doubt casts darkness. And where doubt takes hold, fear may follow. Where there is light, there are also shadows. We move through a life of light and shadows. As light grows dim, the shadows grow darker. Not knowing what may be hidden in the dark can cause us to fear. Will we avoid the dark, or will we walk through it to find whether we can come out on the other side? Is the knowing worth the risk?

They say Fear is False Evidence Appearing Real, and “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Because when fear takes hold, rationality is crowded out. It is only natural to have an emotional response to something truly terrifying. We may become frozen with fear. If you abandon rationality, you won’t be able to examine your life or a situation clearly. When you pause and step back – listen to that other still, small voice – you can shine the light of awareness on the situation. A decision made in fear is untrustworthy. It may lead to rashness; it may lead to misunderstanding; it may lead to hate.

But if fear be nature’s catalyst to survive, then courage is mankind’s fuel to prevail. Courage is accepting the situation as it is and deciding to move forward. It doesn’t mean you don’t have fear. You move forward, despite having those fears.

We oftentimes make decisions out of fear. We can also take leaps of faith.
We may leap to flee the monster that pursues us and find ourselves in the wilderness. Now it is up to us to find our way. Fear is believing the worst will happen. Depression is when we don’t believe things will get better – it’s a place where you have become lost, and there seems to be no way out. Having the courage to move forward, and having faith that things will get better, won’t leave fear and sadness by the wayside. We will always navigate these difficulties in life. Knowing and believing the Light within will guide you through this difficulty will show you the way. That Light, the Light of Awareness that shines on the path you may take – that is the still, small voice that whispers. That is the Voice of Love within. Listen to it and find your way.

“You will only ever have two choices: Love or Fear.
Choose Love, and don’t ever let fear turn you against your playful heart.”
-Jim Carrey