As I age, I am growing an ever-deepening appreciation of nature’s beauty.
In particular, each spring and summer I engage more with the life span of flowers.
With eager anticipation, I watch as they sprout, grow, blossom and bloom into their fullness.
The summer months are a magical opportunity to bask and breathe in the vibrant diversity of our floral friends.
And these little creatures truly do have a capacity to heal us of so many ailments. Sometimes they heal us physically with their extracts. Other times they heal us spiritually, just by their beauty of being.
Recently my husband and I were driving on Dee Bennett Road from Utica to Ottawa, and I noticed some flowers had moved past their peak.
I commented aloud what I had been thinking for a while: “It always makes me a little sad when the flowers start to fade a little.”
I suppose it is only natural to think that way. We as a species and as a culture have a tendency to shy away from decay and deterioration, whether it is in a flower, a neglected or abandoned house, or a loved one.
It is difficult to see once beautiful people and things fall apart, when we think of how they were in their prime.
But if we just stop there, we don’t see the whole picture.
Mother Nature is one of the greatest Scriptures in teaching us about the One from Whom we Originate. Each year I am reminded of this in the wisdom of each season.
Yes, flowers sprout, blossom and bloom, and then they decay. When they decay, their elements go back into the ground to nourish the soil for the next cycle of growth and decay, after the hibernation of winter.
It is a beautiful illustration of the Circle of Life. Incubation. Birth, Fullness, Decay, Death, Rebirth.
In the same way flowers do not lose their purpose once they have passed what we see as their “peak,” neither do humans.
In fact, just as flowers take on an even more important role of nourishing the soil in their falling apart, so we humans often take on a more important role after we have passed what the world sees as our usefulness.
While our bodies begin to fall apart with age, our spirits and souls have a tendency to get wiser. After all, during those prime years, we have been through many highs, and many lows. It might not have been pretty, but we survived.
People who are “past their prime” in the world’s eyes know more of what is really important. They no longer find it necessary to make a name for themselves, or be noticed.
They know all things come, and all things go.
Whatever accolades we receive from others, whether it is public, or fitting in with our cliques, eventually fade way, sometimes quickly.
Either way, we are no longer “useful” to the world around us, that in many ways does not have the ability or desire to look beyond surface appearances.
It is not easy to let go of who we once were, even in our own eyes.
As I have traveled through my own mid-life transition, I have had to acknowledge I no longer fit in with or understand “youth,” as it is today. My physically youthful, young adult years are past; and as alive with hopes and dreams I had then for my life’s blank page, I have come to a new stage in my life.
This stage, what I like to call the onset of the wisdom years, no longer displays the outward energy and zeal youth and young adulthood did, but it holds no less meaning and purpose.
By no means are we any less vital and vibrant in the substance of our souls.
But now, we hold within ourselves the depth and breadth of life experience, from which we can advise those to whom we have passed the baton, if they would but value it.
We also know that even with all our life experience, we don’t know it all, we are comfortable with not knowing, and we are humble enough to admit it.
We open ourselves deeper and wider to the Ineffable Mystery at the Heart of it All.
And that opening is, indeed, nutrient-rich soil for the Circle of Life to continue.
SPIRIT MATTERS is a weekly column that examines experiences common to the human spirit. Contact Jerrilyn Zavada Novak at firstname.lastname@example.org to share how you engage your spirit in your life and community.