The lilac bush outside my window is twice my age but still blooms most years with profusion, taking seriously the cliché “bloom where you’re planted”. Its gnarled grey limbs capture and hold the morning light with a quiet beauty that can tug at your throat. Clusters of tightly-closed, deep lavender nodules cover the bush in upright sprigs, waiting for sun and warmth to unfurl their gift of scent and delicate flower.
It is Spring and everywhere growing things are on the cusp of bursting open and flowering. Buds of lilac, lily-of-the-valley, magnolia, rhubarb, and leaves of all sort seem to be waiting for their time to blossom and expand. Spring is often correlated with youth, that time of life when the wonder of who we are is unfurling. But as I observe nature’s refrain, I think any season of life has opportunity for budding out if we continue to mine into the life we live. We can capture and reflect the morning light on our own gnarled limbs and still bud with fresh ideas and creative living. Aging and youth need not be pitted against each other as opposing entities, but rather, can lean into each other, gleaning a wisdom that each has to offer.
Then too, there is the waiting. If I pried open the tightly furled lilac bud in hopes of hastening the flowering, I would bring it to ruin. It will open in its time, offering the gifts it’s holding onto closely at the moment. Patience is not so much a virtue as it is an acquired, blood-sweat-and tears developed response to life’s budding. It’s a learned butt out in the budding out.
“A silkworm was struggling out of the cocoon and an ignorant man saw it battling as if in pain, so he went and helped it to get free, but very soon after it fluttered and died. The other silkworms that struggled out without help suffered, but they came out into full life and beauty, with wings made strong for flight by their battle for fresh existence.” ~ Sadhu Sundar Singh
We live in a culture that is fixated with youth, flowering, and accomplishing things. We have lost the honouring of our elders, the growth of delayed gratification, and the ability to be content in seemingly ineffectiveness. But maybe, rather than a this or that mindset, we can cultivate a this and that frame of mind. Youth and Aged need not view each other with veiled scorn or cynicism but can remove the lenses of the status quo and truly see.
And maybe, rather than hurrying the waiting, we can learn to not to fill those empty spaces with a busyness or a quick glance at our phones, but let them be and see what evolves. Those spaces of waiting may be pregnant with hope or they may echo with disappointment, but I think we do well to stay in them without needing to aimlessly fill them, demanding a wait time, or crimping in the edges. A bud of some sort may emerge from the gnarled limbs.
“We are enlarged in the waiting.” ~ Romans 8 The Message