photo courtesy of Public Domain Pictures
This morning moonlight radiated through hazy clouds as Phoebe hung at the tip of new-growth twigs on a winter-bare tree. The clouds dissipated, her light growing stronger as I drove the old ferry road to work, until she shone unswathed by the time I walked from car to building.
Earlier, making my stumbling way through the dark house to the garage, I had been thinking about the beauty of the plants the college sent to my brother’s memorial service. Mother called last night, and after we chatted about nothing and everything, she suddenly said, “You should see the plants your friends sent!” After she had liberated them from the lovely basket the florist had used to send them, they now fill the entire house with beauty and hope.
The white kalanchoe, its waxy blossoms like stars among its greenery, sits on the bureau in the living room, across from her usual chair, where she sees them each time she looks up from her book. The ivies and ferns liven the hallway and bedroom windows. And the plant with the glossy deep-green leaves, whose name we sadly do not know but whose beauty captured us from the moment we saw it, holds pride of place on the dining room table.
Mother has lost three close family members in three years: her husband of 67 years (my beloved daddy) two years ago September; his sister (the last of their generation) last year September; her only son (my only sibling) this November. Between the deaths of her husband and her sister-in-law came the death of her great-granddaughter, my middle son’s 17-year-old severely handicapped child. Many would droop into discouragement or worse, but she learned through a difficult childhood in the Great Depression to simply do the next thing, serve and love where she is, leaving what cannot be understood or accepted in merely human terms to her Lord, whom she loves and knows she is loved by. Time will not take away sorrow, but it will heal the bruised spirit; and serving others aids its process and grows the soul closer to Christ's.
Oh, there are no doubt tears in the night, and all the human regrets and frustrations alongside the sorrow of loss. But these are not what define her. Rather, the plants that now bring their physical beauty into her home – sent by deeply caring brothers and sisters she has never met but who have prayed for her and her family again and again over these last years – these remind her of the beauty of the hope which does define her, the Lord and His family who sustain her day by day, moment by moment. Her gratitude is never-ending.
And this morning, as the moonlight mirrored the radiance of the kalanchoe flowers, reiterating the hope they represent, my own heart opened in a psalm of praise.