Tag Archives: death

The Tree That I am

 

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 “Dundas Street West, Toronto” DS 2016

An urban prayer walk – do not know what the tree is but I recognize the shape as my own – tall, strong, beautifully complex yet stripped down. However, this is me in winter. Soon leaves will show their buds of green. My sap runs thick and healthful even in the cold. Like maple syrup it will run for others to drink in the spring. People will even hammer jagged spouts in me to get what is in me out. They catch my lifeblood in buckets. I hope it will do them some good.

Pink flowers, tiny, star-shaped and fragrant pop open one day. I am more delighted by this than any other observer who looks up. They live for a while then die. I remember this blooming last year. I thought it would be forever this hot pink pulchritude. Petals on the streets were my outpouring of love. The streets looked paved in pink for a short few weeks. Then it all went brown. The death of petals is most sad – such a cruel contrast of life and death.

Soon, however, I noticed the leaves growing so large and multi-toned stretching out to catch the blue sky sun. Glory is what comes to me. This glory is even after the blooming is over. Is this the loveliness of middle age?

Then the heat of such growth gives way to the slowing coolness of autumn. The leaves large, veiny become scarlet red, burgundy, orange, burnt umber and lime to evoke awe. They show their true colours then become crispy and die.

I will not fear this death, as I know from past experience that this is when my roots go down far and wide seeking the moisture that keeps me alive although I look dead. This dormancy is my daily experience for now. It feels cold, dead, sparse – lonely.

This waiting will soon pass, I know. Birds of red, blue and yellow will be back to rest, feed and sing in my branches. I will feed some and provide shade for others and impress them in their rest with my splendor. This sap, this Spirit, will raise and beautify me again.

Its leaves were beautiful, its fruit abundant, and on it was food for all. Under it the wild animals found shelter, and the birds lived in its branches; from it every creature was fed.

Book of Daniel

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The Lesson of the Amaryllis

The older stalk balances the newer.

The older stalk balances the newer.

“Lesson of the Amaryllis” 2014 DS

This amaryllis plant that disappointed by not blooming at Christmas has provided entertainment in January almost as if it was a pet. In fact as someone with dander allergies, I have come to see that the way this houseplant is described in all of its aspects must be equivalent to the discussions of house pets. Comments about its appearance and activity have been numerous. No movement in growth has gone unnoticed. It has required care too. It must be turned toward the light each day so it does not lean too far one day and topple the pot. Watering is a regular delicate decision enacted on the hothouse soil just below the large rising bulb.

A couple of days ago I suggested that the older stalk be pruned. My spouse disagreed and wanted it left as it was. As in these days of much married experience I have finally learned to pick my battles, I left it. While finishing my breakfast I quipped, “You like its fading beauty?” He muttered: “Yes keep it – it adds to the beauty.” After further reflection over oatmeal and coffee I blurted: “Am I like that…?”

If truth be told, I did not want to watch the blooms lose their colour, crinkle and drop off – the messiness of it all I might have to clean up. This morning my husband informed me that the second stalk was getting a third bud. (We had expected a mere two.) Enjoying the pinkness of it all I suddenly realized that as the younger stalk gets its third bloom it needs the balance of the older stalk. Also, only with the old and the new side by side do we enjoy the continuum of growth across the lifespan of this dramatic plant. Birth and death and birth again – that is kingdom living. An amaryllis joins my collection of contemporary parables