Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses. ― Alphonse Karr,
Perspective. Is there a more important word in helping us make sense of life? I find the flowers in our yard offer up valuable perspective, when I’m open to it – how we all struggle, unfold, offer up what we have to give to this world, and then whither, each step having it’s own beauty and essential place in the cycle. Roses, and flowers in general, have populated many memorable quotes and reflections over the years. They work so well both literally and metaphorically.
Earth laughs in flowers. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers. – Claude Monet
Little deeds are like little seeds, they grow to flowers or to weeds. – Daniel D. Parmer
In my dreams and visions, I seemed to see a line, and on the other side of that line were green fields, and lovely flowers, and beautiful white ladies, who stretched out their arms to me over the line, but I couldn’t reach them no-how. I always fell before I got to the line. – Harriet Tubman
Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. – Jesus
The Buddha is said to have given a ‘silent sermon’ once during which he held up a flower and gazed at it. After a while, one of those present, a monk called Mahakasyapa, began to smile. He is said to have been the only one who had understood the sermon. According to legend, that smile (that is to say, realization) was handed down by twenty-eight successive masters and much later became the origin of Zen. – Eckhart Tolle
A lot to think on in those quotes. For me, one thing they point us to is the need to resist life less and seek a centeredness in the present. A flower does not “toil or spin” fretting about what happened last year, or yesterday, or five minutes ago. Neither does it worry about tomorrow. It just just does it’s thing with the time it has.
A flower seems so fragile in the grand scheme, dependent on so many things out of its control — weather, where someone decides to step, if another objects blocks the light. But, even if thoughtlessly (to our sense of things), the flower pursues its role and adds its unique expression to the tapestry of experience we call life. I’m not sure how, ultimately, any of us are all that different from a flower. If you blow your perspective up to the planetary level, not to mention the cosmos, our place in the grand scheme of things is just as fragile and dependent as the flowers. How different our experience would be if we stopped fretting so much and focused more on just discovering and being that unique expression that only each of us can be. That is one thing I get out of the wisdom quoted above.
Visionary dancer and choreographer Martha Graham put it this way:
There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.
The cycle of the flora in our climate zone and geographical spot around Austin, Texas blesses us with wave upon wave of flower cycles. I appreciate this yard of ours a little more each year, even though Elizabeth has to remind me of that from time to time. But when I’m out in it, I think there must be a way to make this the centerpiece of a vocation. I’ve intended for years to write more about this yard that we give so much attention and time to. I’ve had grand plans to photograph it, create video pieces on it, podcast about it. Maybe I will. But in the meantime, enjoy the photos and your own little piece of earth. It’s a school that never lets out.