“It’s not fair.”
I gawk at the spectacle of pink blossoms, thousands of them matted in the grass.
Just a day ago, they welcomed me home from our vacation. Even the darkness of our country road couldn’t silence their pronouncement of spring’s arrival while we were away.
I gazed up at them, wondering if a picture could capture their magnificence in the dark. No way. A memory would have to do. I couldn’t help but smile at them as I carried bags into the house, secretly wondering how long the blooms would stay.
And now, here they are at my feet. Half of them are missing from the tree. In a couple of days, they’ll wilted and brown, longed for again until next spring.
Maybe if my soul didn’t feel bare like that tree, those scattered petals wouldn’t offend me so.
Frivolous like that one day when I was 9 years old. Oklahoma winters didn’t provide much snow so the 5-minute ride home was almost too long. Early dismissal for snow! We had it all planned out. First snow angels, then snowmen. This would be EPIC. We could not wait to see that pristine blanket of white that we just knew waited in our yard.
And then we couldn’t believe our eyes. The boy from across the street had torn up our yard with his hasty boots. What snow we had lay disrupted in the aftermath of careless treading while the boy’s own yard sat perfectly untouched.
Again, I look at the tree and the petal confetti beneath it. I feel like Zuzu in It’s a Wonderful Life. “Look, Daddy! Paste it!”
The ground beneath my magnolia scene plays like the familiar tune of my day. Unlike real weather, these storms come without warning and are largely invisible to anyone outside my own heart and home. These kinds of storms can’t be quantified or compared, nonetheless they demand attention. They howl in the wild cry of my child with special needs. Some moments can’t be touched by all the parenting “know-how” in the world. When the day feels like a field of land mines and feelings of powerlessness and desperation come knocking, God’s staying presence is the only anchor strong enough to hold.
Sometimes the tempest hollers in loneliness or the unexpected sting of pain triggered by people who don’t even know there’s a wound. God’s healing work within is good and hard, but the storm wastes no time rushing to the rawest places. It claws hard at hope, a surge hard to confront in profound tiredness. Maybe your storm has a different name, but no doubt you’ve also felt its blow.
El Roi. It means “the God who sees”. (Genesis 16)
He’s the One who found me on our playroom stairs today, the noise and tumbling of my 3 kids all around me. As pain throbbed in my chest, He sat with me. The pulsing of His heart joined my ache and invited these walls down. This is what He always does.
I can’t be strong enough.
I can’t muscle through.
And I don’t have to.
So, I gave up resistance to the tears eager at their gates. They fell quiet and heavy, their warm trails tickling my neck. In their release, my lungs gathered new air. In my letting go, something shifted. Light broke through my clouds.
The God who sees nudged me to look again. So I returned to my magnolia tree.
Maybe the magnolia’s not at a loss. Maybe she let go.
She stands as tall as before. Her roots have not left their place. The blossoms on her branches are now mirrored in a lavish display fit for a bride.
As I ponder my own heart’s course through storms and healing, I wonder what beauty waits on the other side of letting go. Not once, but over and over and over again.
The wind will leave.
The green will come.
My roots will keep pushing into the deep where I’m held from a place not easily shaken.
I can celebrate when all seems as it should be.
And when it isn’t, as Emily P. Freeman says in A Million Little Ways, “Let the day be the day without trying to run away from it.”
And maybe with new eyes, these fallen petals will become my dancing floor. I’ll go ahead and cue the music.
To the One who doesn’t waste a thing. To the One who is still here, still good and teaches me to see the beauty that only a storm can bring.
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