One of my favorite activities is taking an evening stroll through the beautiful neighborhoods surrounding my little town home. There’s something so innately centering about this practice, as it stills and fills me with such peace. There’s something, too, about wandering ‘neath the enormous sky at night, overwhelmed by the possibilities that are so much higher, so much greater than tiny little us. A few times this fall, that bright full moon has looked as though she could swallow me whole, but rather she offers her radiant light and shows me the way home.
Just the other night, on my habitual evening walk, as the daylight began to fade and slip under the horizon, my heightened senses led me to a protruding gardenia bush who seemed to beckon me with her scent. My Lord in heaven, her blooms were intoxicating, and I could not help but snatch an entire branch. I admit it; I am a gardenia thief (some of you know this full well already, and I do believe I am making my Gran Edie AND my mama proud!). However, I promise to you and to them that I am a gentle adopting mother; I take good care when they come home with me.
This particular branch of gardenia blooms had ones that had already opened brightly to life and others that were still hidden tightly in their buds. Already, I felt affinity with this chosen limb, as so often I feel wide-open to the world and to the people and circumstances in my every day, while at other times, I can feel myself still clinging to and hiding fearfully in my own taut bud.
Nestled comfortably in the front pocket of my sweatshirt, the gardenias enjoyed the rest of the night walk home, and the moon shed her generous light for us, as if grateful that someone took the time to notice her kindred spirits. By the time we arrived home, my gardenia branch and I, I placed her gently in a humble, wide-mouthed vase and felt her strengthen the moment she received her first drink and quenched her thirst.
While the entire evening’s event was lovely, what was most beautiful was the surprise that awaited me when I trudged downstairs to see my new friends the next morning. During the darkest passage of the night, two of the tightly pinched buds had awakened and dared to show their glorious faces. Hmmm. A miracle in the dark.
May we dare to wait patiently and endure the dark, for it is in this time that new life can form.
“The seed is in the ground.
Now may we rest in hope
While darkness does its work.”
-Wendell Berry, “A Timbered Choir” (1991)