Wednesday, January 18, 2012

To Every Thing There Is a Season--Then Again, Maybe Not

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”
Ecclesiastes 3:1 King James Version

Brown at the Edges
Out of Season, Out of Time

If every thing has its season, then my yard, like me much of the time, is out of whack. Gardenias do not bloom in January. They do, but they are not supposed to, at least not where I live. I know they do, because after pulling into the driveway the other night, I spied a bloom on the bush beside the boat. The boat hides the bush, and it’s been cold, and I’ve been too busy to get outside, so I didn’t notice the first bloom until it was a little brown at the edges, kind of the way I’ve felt lately.
Putting aside my sheer surprise, of course I plucked that first bloom, brought it inside, and put it in a vase. I hope the scent will permeate the house and mask whatever is bombarding our olfactory nerves after 12 days of non-stop work and time for only the most rudimentary of household duties.
I’m disappointed about the gardenia blooming so early. In late April and early May, I cluck, cluck, cluck like a mother hen as I hover over the gardenia bushes waiting, anticipating the first bloom of the season. As my anticipation builds, it is difficult to contain my excitement when the white petals unfold and the fragrance fills the air.
I missed all that this year. Maybe by April if no more buds unfurl, I can revisit that anticipation, but it will not be the same because of this January gardenia.
Anticipation and attention are lacking for this first bloom, but what this bloom does have (that the previous years’ blooms do not) is surprise. The bloom also has a gentle reminder to practice simple awareness. The slight tinge of brown at the edge of the petals reveals that the bloom was on the shrub for at least three days, maybe five, maybe seven. I don’t know, and that’s part of such awareness, or lack thereof. Caught up in busy-ness for more than a week, because it certainly took that long for the bud to form and swell before it opened, I was unaware. Had I not glanced to the side of the boat the other evening, I would have missed the bloom completely until it was wilted and its fragrance spent.
To every thing, there is a season, but in nature, just like all aspects of life, events happen out of season, out of time. That means the time to pluck what has been planted might change. The challenge of every season is to be awake and alert to life’s surprises, to see events and participate in them, even outside their season. The challenge is to remember to put aside disappointment when my expectations are not met, and instead to cultivate childlike awe when nature and life surprise me, even when I’m feeling a little brown at the edges. The lesson is that it is important to drink in the scent of out-of-season gardenias, and to drink in any pleasant surprise with gratitude.

Ecclesiastes 3:1–8
King James Version

1To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
2A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
3A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

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