I grew up watching my grandma fuss over her summer annuals. Her daily routine required a walk outside before the Missouri heat settled in to check on the flowerbeds dispersed throughout her country yard. She’d step across the dewy lawn to purge wilting petunia heads while cooing over that day’s latest blooms. The thicket of tiger lilies were my personal favorite; growing wild yet sophisticated to my 8 year old mind.
My grandma and I still chat about those summer strolls through her yard fondly. What stands out to me after nearly three decades aren’t the lessons in horticulture I gained from traipsing through the yard by her side, but the joy she expressed over something so temporary and fragile. She looked at the blooms and saw last month’s seedling and last week’s spouting bud. I looked at them and saw a plant I dared not trample in a rambuncious game of hide-n-seek: fragile. I saw lunch for wild, twitchy nose rabbits (grandma called them pests) I found so adorable: temporary.
Experience has a way of training our eyes to see in new ways. My definition of temporary and fragile hasn’t changed, but how I value experiences allowing me to express an eternal joy over the temporary and fragile reality of life certainly has.
A freshly fallen, perfectly formed snowflake before it melts
Nerves over our teenager learning to drive
Jellyfish navigating around boats and docks in the harbor
Grandpa’s dementia-free stories
Mountaintop view out of the airplane window
Snuggles from an aging cat
Hands up high on the rollercoaster
Laughing with the person I married 18 years ago
This past year we moved our family across the country to the Pacific Northwest where giant evergreens replaced Midwest fields of wheat and cattle. In the middle of a season of change I found joy in an all familiar place, a garden. The NW coastal areas are home to breathtaking public gardens where forests of rhododendrons flourish and cherry blossoms crown aisles of rich clover. Once again, I’m looking around reacquainting myself with joy found in the temporary and fragile. Since joy and gratitude go hand-in-hand, I’m thankful for opportunities to trade grief over what ‘was’ into joy over what ‘is’ and rejoice in the hope for all things eternal.
Psalm 103: 13-17
The LORD is like a father to his children,
tender and compassionate to those who fear him.
For he knows how weak we are;
he remembers we are only dust.
Our days on earth are like grass;
like wildflowers, we bloom and die.
The wind blows, and we are gone—
as though we had never been here.
But the love of the LORD remains forever
with those who fear him.