Gnarled Budding


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



Published by Judy

On the edge of Waterloo county resting sedately on knoll, is an old stone house looking out towards the Grand River. This stone house and farm has been in my husband's family for years. We have been graced to call this place home for the last thirty years. Our best crop has been our four children. After years of immersing myself in raising and educating our family, the proverbial nest has slowing been emptying, opening up space for me to fill with other pursuits. Both writing and photography have been knit into my everyday living since I was very young. Sharing them is both a bit of a dream and a bit of a nightmare. But living small and in fear shrivels up a life. My thoughts are musings on God, aging, family, and simply living. My shelves are lined with books, my baskets are brimming with skeins of yarn, my closet shelves are stacked with apparel, my cellar shelves are chock full of home canning - all testaments to my inclinations. Our journeys are not solitary affairs. As I share bits of my journey with you, I hope you will be enticed to look more closely, listen more attentively, and live with abandon. May God's peace rest on your journey. Judy

2 thoughts on “Gnarled Budding”

  1. Janet says:

    I was reading snatches of this to my daughter Victoria this morning and she said your thoughts reminded her of the Shel Silversteins poem about the old man and the little boy…

    Said the little boy, ‘Sometimes I drop my spoon.’
    Said the old man, ‘I do that too.’
    The little boy whispered, ‘I wet my pants.’
    ‘I do that too,’ laughed the little old man.
    Said the little boy, ‘I often cry.’
    The old man nodded, ‘So do I.’
    ‘But worst of all,’ said the boy, ‘it seems
    Grown-ups don’t pay attention to me.’
    And he felt the warmth of a wrinkled old hand.
    ‘I know what you mean,’ said the little old man.

    So much to ponder and appreciate in this post. thank-you again!

    1. Judy says:

      I love that poem and don’t think I’ve read it. Which book is it in?
      And thanks for your encouraging words. I appreciate them.

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