There’s a tree at the end of our street flaunting itself, trumpeting its beauty and shouting “look at me! Stop and stare and take me in…all in!” Bright pink blooms on ever branch and twig form a canopy of little girl dreams and fairy tale stories.
The tree so full it can’t contain itself has blanketed the ground beneath with a rug of soft blush petals. I want to roll around in it, but since it’s not my tree or my yard I have settled on taking pictures.
As I pulled to the end of my street today, heading out for another day of errands marked by waning self-control, I caught a smile running across my face. This tree is stunning but it’s being purged, it’s shedding. In its losing, it looks better than it does in its wholeness.
This seems to be theme – darkness, loneliness, pruning and loss have marked this Lent season for me. I suppose I am partially to blame, after all I asked for it. I entered this time asking the Lord to “Search me” and my, oh my, has He. I have come terribly close to asking Him to stop but this thing I know – no pain or disappointment goes unused in the hands of God. He is in the business of making things complete, but He likes to go about it in reverse order.
He likes to break first.
As I have said before we are only complete when we are broken in and by His hands.
This tree, stands tall and proud, while all around its trunk littering the ground below is a marvelous picture of everything it has had to lose in the process – its very crowning glory is falling to the ground to die. And, before the season is over, it will lose all. Not one pink bloom will be left to show it’s once finery. But, this time next year, it will bloom again.
If the blooms didn’t fall, they would rot and corrupt the integrity of the tree. Some blooms, no matter how lovely to the human eye, have the power within to stink and decay and bring its host down with it. The arrival of the blooms are a sign of its life just as their falling are a sign of its health.
This falling away of lovely things makes me want to kick off my shoes and dance in the refuse in the grass around the roots. As Spring approaches we are reminded that He makes all things new and He is making me new. Although the molting of things I consider lovely and good is painful to see – the empty hands I am left with will prepare me for a new crop. A new harvest. A new bouquet.
An explosion of pink against a bright blue Florida sky embracing and releasing its fine jewels back to the dust, back to its Creator, who in all His glory is greater than our eyes can behold in this life. But this shedding, and losing, and falling to the ground is our process of reaching higher and becoming more… more like Him. In His work of art and His perfect order of things, this life will strip us, leaving our silvery bark bare for a season again, until the air warms and the sky blues and the life returns.
We are seasonal – our griefs, our rejoicing, our failures, our successes, our losing and our winning – these flood in and out like the tides and ever change like the seasons. But, unlike our earthly foliaged friends, each season draws us closer and nearer our Savior if we have the eyes to see the blooming and the shedding as both blessings.
The falling away of our finery speaks to the ever loving God and His never-ceasing tender mercies. To be laid bare, tucked into the clefts of a hidden rock, shrouded in darkness and tight suffocating quarters is love and protection. And to be released, revealed, and decked out in finery as our pink trumpet tree is a moment of reflection of His divinity. And we are simply allowed to be His mirror.
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