I’ve spent considerable time sipping tea and staring out the window at the delightful gift of a wintry dressing of the finest ermine-like snow.
The heaviness portends of portly snowmen, round and full-girthed with the sticky wet snow. Alas, that same boon to those prone to snow frolicking has proven injurious to a few of my more delicate trees. A flowering plum has keeled and snapped all lower branches from the weight collected amongst the lingering leaves steadfastly clinging beyond the normal dates for her deciduous dance. Likewise, a healthy dogwood adorned thickly with finger-like branches has gathered snow in great handfuls like snowballs and taxed her arm ‘til it gave way. My left hand brandished broom and rode to the rescue of many a rose and more bearing down under the heavy gift from the snow queen. Judicious pruning and careful cutting should combine with future springtime spurts of growth to yield a new bit of character to these prominent players in my landscape games.
Perfection in the garden ranks right next to perfection in life – a wasted effort which actually blinds one to the unique beauty wrought from the triumph over adversity. My most beautiful willow started out as an injured twig sold for a fraction of its original cost. Soon after I planted it out along with my “perfect specimens” it set about shooting out fresh new growth which overpowered its stunted roots and come the first snowfall in an October storm he keeled and shifted into the most horrid shape. Oh! I left him to heal, fearing a setting of the trunk would snap it entirely. I planned to replace it the following spring. Yet when the sap rose, this little guy grew down and reinforced his footing before setting about the business of bushiness. I let him be and watched in wonder as he grew a rare beauty of form and billowiness that the more fortunately-situated willows lacked. In the end, my “Charlie Brown” willow stands out majestically while two of those “perfect” willows died the next summer from root-bound limitations – I guess you could say they died of thirst.
(My "Charlie Brown" Willow -- back right)
For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters,
And that spreadeth out her roots by the river,
And shall not see when heat cometh,
But her leaf shall be green;
And shall not be careful in the year of drought,
Neither shall cease from yielding fruit.
So, I gaze out at my badly damaged plum and feel a tiny tingle of anticipation mixed in with the sorry sight. What souvenir will result from the harsh fingerprints left by this wintry visitor?
Immediately I think about my afternoon in ER yesterday and the many hurting people I encountered. Being free from infectiousness, I freely visited with those around me. Light polite chatter deepened as the time passed. Tears flowed over heartbreaks of long ago that left the prospects of this Christmas bleak. Sorrow, suffering, anger, and a host of other spirit-stifling attitudes wounded far deeper than the flesh breaks and bodily failures that brought them to the doorstep of a doctor. I won’t pretend to be happy about my poorly-timed attempt to intercept the sofa pillow my son swung about wildly, nor will I whitewash my disappointment when I awoke this morning to feel the casted heaviness, thus dispelling the hope that I had dreamed the event – but, I will admit joy in knowing God allowed me the opportunity to encourage many in ER that might have otherwise sat steeped in sadness, lonely in the midst of a crowd. I count it all joy.
Today I have the peaceful interlude of a snow day in which to whittle down my ambitious plans for the holiday celebrations in light of my limited abilities. Christmas joy will arrive even though my soufflé may be replaced by a pizza, or my Christmas pudding by a simple crisp. Our joy comes from gathering together at the makeshift cradle to celebrate the greatest gift . . . a Savior born humbly in a stable.
As our house fills up with friends and family my cast will be gone, but the fingerprints of this strained event have the power to shape these holidays with a unique beauty as I let the expectations melt away revealing unexpected beauty . . . and triumphant joy.