Friendship

Peonies and such …

2018 05 20 peonyPeony. What a strange name for a plant.   it seems somewhat irreverent and just plain wrong to name a such a beautiful flower a word that you can easily string out to say pee-o-knee or worse … um, well, you get the image….

This is my first spring in my new home and lo and behold, this week there were 3 such buds on a small bush in my back yard.  By Friday, they had transformed into gorgeous lush pink blossoms in full bloom.  And the memories came flooding back to this time 3 years ago.

A friend had brought me the most gorgeous bouquet of peonies.  She must have cut every single one that her bush had produced, and she gave them to me to brighten my day, creating beauty in sorrow. Mysteriously, those flowers lasted through Warner’s last days and past his funeral. I must have admired them a hundred times over. Funny the things you remember so vividly.

Three years without Warner.  1,095 days. 26,280 hours, 1,576,800 minutes. I cannot count the seconds.  There are too many. I can’t wrap my head around such a number.

And yet I am still breathing. I get up every morning.  I do the day. Most nights I sleep.  The sun rises and sets.  The months go by. The seasons pass. Not even one of those seconds I dare not count has stood still or raced ahead or been lost in all this time.

Remembering the anniversary of the death of your beloved is so different from remembering that person’s birthday or anniversary.  Those dates come naturally, and with them sweet and dear memories of times shared together, events, joy, celebrations, laughter.  Those were traditions, planned and executed with longing, expectation, delight.  Even though there is a sadness to them now, there is also a tenderness that comes from thinking back to special moments shared together.  Not so with a person’s physical death. It happens once. That day is marked forever as an ending, with each of its moments burned in your brain with irrevocable finality.  Done and done. That date on the calendar reminds you of one thing.

Even so, peonies still bloom.  I googled the word today to learn a bit more about this flower that I had shunned my whole life just because of its name. I learned that the word peony is “a merger of Middle English, Old English, Old North French, Latin and Greek words, related to paiōnios (healing), from paiōn (physician), and so called for the plant’s healing qualities.”

The peony is known as the flower of “riches and honor. With their lush, full, rounded bloom, peonies embody romance and prosperity and are regarded as an omen of good fortune and a happy marriage.  The peony is a strong symbol of beauty, fragility and transitory nature of existence. Furthermore, they depict that getting great rewards is only possible by taking great risks.”

 Also, peonies rarely bloom the first year after planting. It often takes three years before you see an abundant display of flowers. Peony plants require little maintenance as long as they are planted properly and establish themselves; they do not respond well to transplanting. But once the plants do start blooming, you can look forward to a lifetime of beautiful flowers. They can live to be ONE HUNDRED years old!”

So, there you have it.  I think Warner would be pleased with my peony bush.  He had no problem with irreverence if it led you to a righteous goal. We shared years of good fortune and a happy marriage, full of beauty, fragility, the transitory nature of existence and great rewards directly related to the great risks he never feared to lead us through. And that comment about taking three years to abundance…  I sure do feel it coming…

Warm Rain

Dwater_drop_on_grass_203309uring this season of suffering, so many of you have poured your love into me just like a warm spring rain.  Cleansing.  Refreshing.  Comforting.  Life-giving.  You keep me from spiraling down in the dark abyss of isolation. You breathe life into me.

Sometimes it is through a cry, a hug, a quiet sigh, a good word. Sometimes it is a laugh, a funny story, silliness, some good natured teasing.  It may be a story to distract, a moment to reminisce, a task to accomplish. A phone call, a text, a visit, an email, a card – all coming at the precise moment I need them most.  This could be nothing less than the heart and mind of God, working through His people, working through you to bring comfort in time of need.

I have yet to answer many of your expressions of love.  Yet none are forgotten.  All are treasured.  My life has been forever changed by the way you have wrapped your arms around Warner and me, walking together with us during this time.

There are days when I feel like I’m in Rephidim when the Amaleks came and fought with Israel (Exodus 17).  It is as if I am standing on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.  God uses that staff to win great battles.  This time the battle is not against Israel’s enemies but against mine, namely fear, anxiety and self pity.  When I grow tired and so very combat weary, it is not Aaron and Hur who give me a place to sit and hold up my hands.  It is you.  You keep me steady and victorious against the voices that speak death inside my head.

Other days I feel like Mephibosheth, the son of King David’s best friend Jonathan and the grandson of his worst enemy Saul.  I am crippled and lame from a fall that was no fault of my own.  I am not standing on the top of a hill.  There is no staff in my hand.  Yet even so, you lift me up to the table.  You show me God’s kindness and compassion.  Along with Mephibosheth I ask, “What is your servant, that you should show regard for a dead dog such as I?” (2 Samuel 9)

Then there are days when I am the paralytic that you tirelessly carry to Jesus.  You remove all the obstacles keeping me from Him.  You bring me to Jesus, face to face.  It is your faith in Him that takes the necessary steps to bring me to Jesus on those days when I cannot move.  (Matthew 9, Mark 2)

I see how very weak and fragile I am.  I am poor in spirit.  I am desperate for more of God.  There are moments when I hold my breath and then literally freeze up.  The pain is sharp and deep.  I have neither the strength nor the courage to exhale.   But miraculously somehow I do.  It is not from my effort.  It is the Lord’s.  Oftentimes, it is through the strength that God has given you that you in turn choose to share with me.  This is the church at work in perfect harmony. It is not a building.  It is people, in tune with their Lord.

Thank you.  I know those words sound trite and common, especially in light of your extraordinary and rare gift to us.  But they are all I have to give right now.  They are sincere from my heart.

Perhaps you don’t realize the impact your words and actions may have.  Perhaps you think you do nothing, or very little or that it has gone unnoticed.  But the power of reaching out beyond oneself in the Spirit is immeasurable, no matter if it is one millimeter or one mile.

 Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth…. Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the Lord that he may come and rain righteousness upon you.  Hosea 6:3, 10:12

 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God…. Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.  1 Corinthians 1:3-7, 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

 ♥