Beauty in Impermanence
I have never been much of a flower person. It's not that I don't love flowers, I do. Flowers are beautiful and all beauty stirs something in my heart. But here's the thing...once that beauty was stirred I wanted to hold on to it, I wanted to keep it. But a bouquet of flowers are the epitome of impermanence.
The practical side of me had a hard time spending money on something so fleeting. But there was something more than that going on in my heart. My heart didn't want beauty to be impermanent. In fact I didn't really care for anything that reminded me of impermanence.
Then I had to come face to face with the hardest of impermanences: the impermanence of love.
Because like it or not, try as I might to avoid it, Bryan is going to die. Not because he has cancer, but because he is human. He is going to die. I am going to die. My children are going to die. Everyone I care about is going to die. And before those final goodbyes our relationships will vary and change countless times, they will ebb and flow through innumerable variations. They will change. And be changed again. And I don't like that.
Anne Morrow Lindbergh wrote about this in her beautiful book Gift from the Sea.
When you love someone you do not love them all the time, in exactly the same way, from moment to moment. It is an impossibility. It is even a lie to pretend to. And yet this is exactly what most of us demand. We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships. We leap at the flow of the tide and resist in terror its ebb. We are afraid it will never return. We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity; when the only continuity possible, in life as in love, is in growth, in fluidity - in freedom, in the sense that the dancers are free, barely touching as they pass, but partners in the same pattern. The real security is not in owning or possessing, not in demanding or expecting, not in hoping, even. Security in a relationship lies neither in looking back to what it was in nostalgia, nor forward to what it might be in dread or anticipation, but living in the present relationship and accepting it as it is now.
The truth is we are creatures of little trust. Alhough we see the variability, the constancy of change, the impermanence, all around us, we try to deny it. We want beauty that is permanent. We want relationships that are constant. We fight against our temporal ever-changing surroundings.
For so long my heart had little trust. I was fearful and scared of change and impermanence. I desired beauty and love, but I desired to have them without the pain of inevitable loss. In fact, without any pain. It has only been in facing my biggest fear, the fear of losing my husband, that I have begun to understand the value in impermanence.
Trying to cling to beauty and love kills it.
The impermanence of flowers doesn't lessen their beauty, any more than the impermanence of a sunset lessens it's beauty. It actually enhances it. The same is true of love.
Now there is a added value to me in flowers. They remind me that impermanence is a message. When I embrace impermanence I embrace trust. Trust in a God who "set eternity in the hearts of men". Because this denial of impermanence, this longing to hold on to things, this longing to keep things from changing, it is itself a longing for eternity, for the timeless, for the spiritual.
And so flowers and sunsets and all the fleeting, changing, varying beauty of relationship is a message to me, a reminder, that there is a better day coming. A resurrection day.
And every flower becomes for me twice a symbol of the resurrection. Once as it bursts forth in life out of dark soil, and twice as it withers and dies. It whispers even in death - there's a better day coming.
And this is why I'm so excited that my friend Jenna is launching this amazing project to start a mobile boutique floral shop. She is doing more than just spreading flowers, beauty, and creativity. She is spreading resurrection.
I hope you take a second to look at her kickstarter campaign. Share some love and help her spread some of the wonderfully impermanent beauty of flowers.
Rejoicing in the journey,