It’s Saturday morning and with coffee in hand I stepped into my back yard as is my habit on weekend mornings to inspect the garden – to see what needs to be pruned back and to take a look at the new growth. I find it is very calming to care for plants – to see growth. I like to cut off the dead growth to make room for the new flowers to come.
I am learning that cutting back healthy parts of the plants is a good thing – it gives more strength to the plant as a whole and helps to direct the growth in the shape and direction needed. When I first started pruning I was nervous as it just seem counterintuitive to be cutting back healthy growth – but I learned very quickly that wise pruning makes for a very healthy outcome. I could write much about the life lessons in the good of pruning – the painful process of cutting out the bad to make room for good fruit – and perhaps that is a subject for another post – as I have many real life examples of how this has been true in my own life.
What caught my eye today was my beloved hydrangea plants – I have three in the garden which I watch with great eagerness. Two of the plants produce gorgeous flowers the colour of periwinkle purple as pictured above and then turned into a deep brownish rose colour as also pictured above. We used to call the colour “dusty rose” back in the 80’s – do you remember that?
With the heat this summer the flowers in the full sun did not last as long as they usually do and had to be cut back much to my disappointment. However, I watched through the month of August as new leaves sprouted bringing the plant that appeared to have been given a brush cut come back to fullness in shape.
And with the month of September, the beautiful green leaves started to turn a deep burgundy colour – all part of the glory of the transformation from summer to fall – so fascinating to watch.
What I noticed today were the small buds of flowers coming. I wondered if they would make it to full bloom before the frost came to take the plant into its winter sleep. And I thought about timing. It just seems that they are too late to be enjoyed – what a waste. And I stopped myself in this thinking very quickly – I realized that even in the last few weeks of the life of the garden new growth can still be appreciated and celebrated. It doesn’t matter that there will be less time to enjoy these new flowers or even that they may not make it to full bloom – there is still enjoyment in this new life.
Sometimes our expectations in life are challenged when it seems the timing is off – when we receive a blessing but it comes so late that there is little time to enjoy it. There is another way to view this – sometimes we can be surprised by a blessing when we didn’t expect it to come – and although it comes late – it is still to be enjoyed.
C.S. Lewis wrote a book entitled “Surprised by Joy” which talks about his conversion to Christianity. He was also surprised by love late in his life – it is a beautiful heart wrenching love story a summary of which you can read here. He was surprised by a friendship that challenged him intellectually, and a woman who took his heart ever so gradually only to lose her to cancer soon after. Is this an example of a bloom coming too late to enjoy? Perhaps you could look at it in this light, but on the other hand this love that found C.S. Lewis and Joy Davidman was strong and intense much because of its timing. I dare say that many who find love early in life do not have the same understanding of love as did these two and because they knew the preciousness of time they celebrated this love deeply.
We live by the clock, by the calendar. Our expectations are set by the clock and by the calendar. We expect life to play out just as the cultural calendar dictates – but sometimes we might be surprised by a bud that appears in September and grows into October with little time to blossom before the frost comes. These are still tremendous blessings to be celebrated and enjoyed – in fact even more so because they surprise us – and they come at a time when the hope of summer is closing down. Perhaps this is just the right time for this kind of joy to arrive – right when we need it most!