I’ve always loved the spring. The new and the fresh. Everything begins again. What is passed, has been wiped away by the harsh, wet, cold and unforgiving of winter.
We clean and we plan in the spring. A seed can go in the ground and grow into the beauty of a young plant. As it grows and gains an identity, it brings forth flowers and blossoms. Everyone looks closely at the budding flower. We inhale the beauty, do a double take. We stop and admire the colors, the scents. Bees are attracted and pollinate. At that moment in time, all is right with the world.
The flowers might be cut at their peak and brought indoors. They are placed in elaborate arrangements or alone. We inhale their fragrance and delight in their beauty. We try to preserve them. Some create imitations as a form of art.
But just like everything else, the flower has a life span. Once cut, it will begin to wilt. We can do everything we want to preserve it. We feed it and set it in just the right temperature and environment. Ultimately, though, no matter our efforts, the flower will leave us. We all know this. We don’t talk about it.
The “hallmark” moments, commemorated on cards, do not carry the image of the wilted flower. They do not carry the photo of the flower with the dried edges, the blemishes, the defects. We don’t relish those. We don’t buy them.
We glance over them, in the quest for that perfect rose. The one which is ever beautiful and preserved in the moment of time that it was captured at full blossom. The blossom of youth.
People and flowers are often treated the same. We do not put the 78 year old, wheelchair-bound, woman on the cover of Cosmo or Vogue. We do not serenade 78 year old women with “Easy, breezy, Cover Girl” as they twirl around in their wheelchairs, smiles on their faces, with their hair windblown on a television screen.
We don’t want to look there. That is not spring. There is no guidebook for those of us left to care for these flowers. There is no glamour. There are no discussions. We hide these flowers, wilting and dried edges, behind closed doors. We toss them away.
Because they make us sad. They cause us fear. And yet, these flowers have the most detailed and beautiful stories to tell. They radiate knowledge and glamour from within. Eventually, the water in their vases gets low. Their stems quit carrying nutrients there. Or they just won’t take the water in anymore.
The florist comes. He asks us what to do with the wilted flowers. Shall we leave them on their own to wilt? We are not killing them. They will die naturally. Or we can continue artificially injecting them with nutrients for as long as possible.
We are not ready to face that question. It is not our decision. It is not fair. It hurts. Reality hurts.
One has to find faith. To view the tiny flower as part of an unending Universe. A Universe so full of mathematical perfection that it could not exist by chance. It becomes imperative to reach out and know that God will carry us in hard times. That he is holding on to us as we struggle and we cry.
The view must be of a greater good to come. Without that perspective, you are compelled to look into an empty void of nonexistence. And what good will that serve you if you are right?
It is not a matter of right or wrong. One has to look beyond what is science and feel it deep within oneself. Faith demands strength.
Strength that there is more than we can see or understand. Strength to make it past the most difficult journeys of life. Strength to know that as we infuse the flower with the nutrients of life, perhaps the flower will smile in the Sun, radiate in the calm and find peace as we give it all the love and comfort we can.
The flower may never know the effort we have made to give it everything we could. But we will know we tried. God will know. We must have faith that in another spring, we will see the flower again, blooming and full of life.
Every one who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the Universe-a spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble.
[On January 14, 2012, I went with my father to admit my mother to the hospital yet again. Her Parkinson’s has advanced to the point where she is no longer able to swallow. She is seeing and hearing things the rest of us cannot. She knows who I am and who my father is, but others who we cannot see are with her as well. She will be given a feeding tube and will no longer eat food or drink liquids. This decision had to be made. I am trying to remain strong for my father. He is an atheist. I am a Catholic. It isn’t easy.]