I have a particular fondness for decidious trees and plants. For me they seem to replicate the whole life cycle, from birth to death to birth again. In their barren winter state, you think it is over, but it really isn’t. Come spring, new life appears, often more vibrant than before.
I used to work as a volunteer with the terminally ill. It was tough some times, although clearly not as tough for me as for the one who was ill. The passage of a life is never easy. When life begins to slip by you begin to recognize how much you really have and how much you missed. Those who remain see the same lesson, although maybe not as much. We just feel the pain of a life lost and how much we also took for granted that life. In some ways, the ones we lost didn’t have a chance to make things new, but in many respects we did. We learned from them that it is never too late to amend our ways, to say the things we should say, to try to do better.
The labor of death is not unlike the labor of birth. It is as if we are letting go of one form to embrace another. The garden testifies to this. Its cycles constantly remind us that it is never too late. From compost to seeds to the shedding of leaves and back again, nothing is never really lost and all things make life and all its inherent beauty and character possible.
Tonight as the sun starts its slow descent to make way for evening I watch from my desk the grape vine that rises strongly over an arbor in Merlin’s Garden. It is rich and thick and green and bears the promise of wonderful fruit. When I walk under it, its lushness casts a light shadow and makes the harsh sun more pleasant. I marvel over its beauty. Over a month ago it was just vine, devoid of color and bloom. Today it supplies exactly that. It is new life but it comes from the old life that is willing to make room for it. When we let go of the old, like a decidious tree letting go of its leaves in winter, we allow for a rebirth in the landscape called our lives. What a wonderful opportunity to start fresh and make things new again.