Sunday, April 22, 2012

Cherry Blossoms

For about a week each Spring, people from around the GTA and even beyond flock to Toronto’s beloved High Park.

Cherry Blossoms: it’s not just that we look at them… we experience them. We walk under the canopy of soft pink, almost translucent petals, we breathe the sweet scent, and we experience this communally with those walking alongside us. Eyes meet those of a stranger, and there is such warmth, even familiarity. For this moment in time, we’re enjoying the beauty of life side by side. We’re Torontonians, neighbours whose lives have connected on this path. We see the young bride and groom up ahead, strangers, dressed in full array of wedding day attire, and though we don’t know them or their story, we’re a part of their picture, and we share their joy.

So much beauty above and around. And yet even as my heart is moved, thankful for a Creator who has shaped and fashioned with such detail and exquisite artistry, I find myself distracted. I’m endeavoring to re-focus, but my eyes return not to the petals on the trees above, but to the petals that have left, slowly falling, starting to collect in little heaps on the path. I’m not sure why some of us are wired this way; wired to feel the sorrow of what is passing instead of purely beholding the beauty of the present. Why is it that so many of the lovely things we experience in the natural world have timers built into them? Why does vibrant beauty fade? Why, even as I look up and enjoy, is this beauty making ready the moment of descent when it will fall, and then decay? We see it and sense it in so many ways: life is passing, and each day that we’re young brings us one day closer to when we’ll be old, when we too will fall and decay.
“Generations come and generations go, but the earth never changes. The sun rises and the sun sets, then hurries around to rise again. The wind blows south, and then turns north. Around and around it goes, blowing in circles. …Everything is wearisome beyond description. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content.” 

Is that it, then? Have we been created to live and die, weary, doing much, even seeing indescribable beauty, but never to be satisfied? Or is this part of His perfect design? In the sadness of knowing it will fade, has our Creator placed in us a desire for a beauty that can never be satisfied in this world?

“Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart…” 

The picture begins to gain clarity. The built in timer, the passing nature of beauty, the swiftly passing quality of life… Maybe He designed it this way to speak to something more, Someone more.
"Lord, through all the generations you have been here. Before the mountains were born, before you gave birth to the earth and the world, from beginning to end, you are God.For you, a thousand years are as a passing day, as brief as a few night hours. You sweep people away like dreams that disappear. They are like grass that springs up in the morning. In the morning it blooms and flourishes, but by evening it is dry and withered. Seventy years are given to us! Some even live to eighty. But even the best years are filled with pain and trouble; soon they disappear, and we fly away."

From the sadness, the ache, the distraction of knowing how quickly this beauty will fall and decay, comes hope, comes a profound beauty that does not spoil or fade. The well known words of C.S. Lewis speak to this: “If I discover within myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”

“Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom. … Satisfy us each morning with your unfailing love, so we may sing for joy to the end of our days.”