Waking the Flowers: A Happiness Tale

RobinWaking the flowers is specialized work.   They sleep very soundly, you know.  And everything has to be just right – the length of the days, the warmth of the sun and soil, the likelihood that all but a few, brief flurries of snow are gone.

You need someone for the job who is hardy enough to withstand spring’s fickle weather, and has the wisdom to read it.  You want someone with a call distinctive and bold enough to serve as a signal, yet sweet enough to wake the delicate flowers gently.  You want someone who will sing at their birth and encourage them through their first days of cold and rain with his song.

And that’s why they send in the robins.  They perfectly fit the bill.

The robins don’t know that’s why they’re here, of course. They come because it’s where their parents came, and their parents before them.  They think of it as the place with fat, juicy worms where you can find a hot mate and raise a batch or two of babies in the limbs of a leafy maple or soft spruce.

It’s kind of miraculous when you think about it, the way things work out.  You believe you’re just living your ordinary life, and here you are, waking the flowers. You never know what wonders will happen, just because you are here.

Raining Diamonds

Sleet Crystals FallingHappiness doesn’t come from Out There, you know.  The things you say “make you happy” aren’t its cause.  Oh sure, things Out There can turn you on.  But what they’re turning on is already inside you.  They just amplify the song.

Sunsets do it for me. Nature’s beauty in general.  My family.  My friends. My cat.  A good joke.  Anybody’s smile. A good night’s sleep.  Taking photos.

And just like you, I say they “make me happy.”

But it’s important for us to know that the phrase is a just fluke of our language and not the real truth.  Otherwise we would keep looking for happiness Out There, where it isn’t.
Out There is just the movie screen.  We write the stories that play on it.

And once you discover the real source of happiness—the deep, vibrant, living pool of goodness and beauty and truth within yourself—the stories you project onto the screen brim with joy.

Why, you can even walk through slushy sleet on a thick gray day and see it as raining diamonds.

Ringing in Spring

Burst BudsShe’s such a fancy girl, that one, twirling all over the stage, tossing flowers from her lacy pockets, sprinkling raindrops from her watering can.

She waltzes blithely across the hills and baby lambs spring up in her footprints.

She splashes through ponds and frogs sing.  She wears rainbows in her hair.

The wind is her laughter, and when it passes through the treetops, the buds burst into tiny bells that dance to her song and ring in her coming with frothy gladness and joy.

The Power of Believing: A Happiness Tale

Blossoming CrocusThey were told, of course, before they volunteered for the Earth adventure, that it wouldn’t be easy.   Earth, after all, was an experimental world, far from settled, and subject to great extremes.

It was a place of breathless beauty and exquisite pleasures, to be sure.  But they were balanced by hardships severe enough to test the bravest soul.

The crocuses volunteered eagerly nonetheless.  To hold true to your mission on Earth, to spread your petals and blossom there was to win the gold.

But it wasn’t the gold they were after.  It wasn’t even the thrill of the adventure.  What really and truly motivated them was the opportunity to express the depth of their love for their mission: to spread joy to the farthermost edges of the inhabited universe, to express it even in the wilds of time and space.

In their hearts they knew that was the key: to hold fast to believing, no matter what, in the sanctity of spreading joy.

And so when the snows fell on their freshly opened petals, they folded themselves carefully inward and quietly chanted their creeds of happiness.  When the winds blew and the night brought frost, they turned their thoughts to their mission, and murmured to one another, “I believe; I believe,” until they fell asleep.

Finally, just as their last bit of strength was fading, the sun rose over the rim of the hills.  And at the touch of its very first rays, the little flowers felt hope rippling through them and a delicious, growing warmth.

One by one, they began to open their petals, gingerly at first, and then in sudden bursts of delight.  Before the sun was even half way up its climb, they were standing tall and broad and open, and their laughter spilled across the lawn and into the air.  It rose to the treetops, where it kissed the morning birds and sailed up to the sky in gladness and praise for the Great Yes who had sent them.  And the Great Yes echoed back their gladness, and the Earth was filled with joy.

A Whisper of Serenity

Pastel SunsetBeyond the rush and drama of the day, and beneath it, breathing itself into the cells of trees, and singing frogs, and sleeping birds, serenity stretches its lush, gossamer sigh.
It’s full of luxury and ease, like a deep mountain pool.

Our buzzings hover above it like hungry mosquitoes. But it is not disturbed.  It wraps them in a cloud of compassion and offers us the nectar of its peace.  Humans, it knows, will do what humans do.

Even so, it seeps into our sleep at night, offering reassurances, painting our deepest dreams with its panoramic view.

Sometimes, when you wake at night, you can even hear its gentle crooning.  “Be at peace, my child,” it whispers.  “All is well, and you are loved.”

Jack Came Back

Frost HeartJack came back, bringing hearts and flowers.  He left a postcard on the window near my bed.

“Endings are important,” it said, “and I just couldn’t leave without saying good-bye.  It meant so much to me to feel really seen and appreciated.  Thanks, from the bottom of my heart.  Love, Jack.”

(And people say he’s cold!)

Well, the truth is, to feel really seen and appreciated is all any of us wants.  Isn’t it?  Those times when someone looks at you or at something you worked hard to create and says “Wow!” are just the best.

Jack earned my “Wow!”  The designs he painted on my windows this past winter were exquisite.

And how it touched my heart, that he would stop back to say good-bye.  He was right.  Endings are important.  They color the way we remember an encounter, a relationship.  They can leave the door open for more or close it forever.

I’m glad Jack came back to make sure the door was open.  When the next winter rolls around, I’ll be looking forward to his return.  Meanwhile, I’m smiling over the sweetness of the note he left.  It made me feel seen, and appreciated.  Thanks, Jack.

The Legacy

Old Pasture FenceThe lovely old Victorian farm house is gone now, and the substantial barn where they kept the dairy cows.  At one time a big chicken coop stood in the side yard, too.  I watched them all age, and finally be torn down when a developer bought the property.

But the land still bears their mark and holds a few remnants of their presence.

The most tangible one is the little section of hand-hewn fence that separated the large pasture from their yard.

I love that fence.  It evokes whole movies in my mind of a hard working turn-of-the-century farm family.  I see the father working the fields, the kids helping to milk the cows, feed the chickens, the mother baking bread in the brick oven in the kitchen.  I’m sure they had horses, too, and cats and dogs.  They worked hard, and slept well, and watched the sunsets from their big porch at the end of a hot, summer day.

The images wash over me with a warm nostalgia, reminding me of simpler days, clearer values, lives lived in closer harmony with the earth.

When he put up that fence, I imagine the young farmer had no idea that it would outlast everything, that the sweat on his brow would glisten through the decades.  You never know how far your gestures will travel through time, which of your works will crumble, which endure.  You live your life, doing the best you can.  That’s all life asks.

And in return, life creates a legacy of some kind in your honor.  A token that endures, a word, an act of kindness that gets passed on and on, a value you instilled in the hearts of your children.  In ways we’ll never know, we make our marks on the world.  Just by living our lives, by doing the best that we can.


Bit by Bit

Baby Maple LeavesThe subtle fluffiness that decorates the wooded hills is taking on a hint of red now.  Bit by bit, the maples are unfolding their buds.  Cell by cell, their sap sings its way upward, nurturing them. Photon by photon, their tiny leaves drink in the light and expand.

That’s the way all transformation happens: one little step at a time.  Choice by choice, we shape the patterns of our lives.  Bit by bit, we process our experiences.  Little by little, our understanding grows.

That doesn’t mean that change happens slowly.  Blink, and the hills will be green. Every moment is wholly new; nothing stands still.  Whole lifetimes rush past in an instant.  Time is a matter of personal perception.

But the kaleidoscopic flow of it all is a choreographed affair, danced to a music beyond our hearing, playing for our unfolding, sung in the key of joy.

The Winds of March

Grasses in WindIt’s no easy thing, to birth springtime.  To burst open the countless buds, to push up the countless blades of grass and stalks of flowers, takes power.

This is more than a smooth transposition of seasons, after all.  This is a resurrection of life from the cold tomb of winter across an entire hemisphere.  It’s a raucous time, the wild escaping of life’s new dreams from their long hibernation.

And so the winds blow, their breath fierce as a lion’s, sweeping along the migrating birds, carrying the last of the snow, testing the new life for toughness.  It will need to be tough; earth life requires some grit, some resilience.

But it requires tenderness, too: hearts that can be moved by kindness, by beauty.  It brings forth delicate creatures, soft and sweet at their births.  And so the March winds blow, their breath as gentle as a lamb’s, ferrying feathery seeds and swaddling the new life in birdsong.

The Waltz of the Crocuses: A Happiness Tale

Miniature CrocusesThe flower divas, a dedicated group of cosmic nurturers that we might think of as angels of sorts, have a special fondness for the miniature crocus elementals.

Theirs is a simple pattern, one of the first the elementals would perform in their centuries-long flower careers.  But their colors were so pure and bright, and despite their tiny size and delicate petals, they were so eager and strong, that they made the divas proud.

In the outermost nursery where they practiced their last lessons before embarking on their earth adventure, they filled the rooms with laughter.  They were so gentle and graceful, and so determined to get everything right that the divas couldn’t help but adore them.

When they napped, folded into closed little bud forms, the divas played Tchaikovsky for them, and watched their little flower dreams float up to the stars.

Graduation day in the nursery was filled with excitement.  Each group was given its colors and final instructions, and then they got to see the spot on Earth where they would bloom.

The divas led them through their last rehearsal , and, after a special treat of sweet nectar, kissed them tenderly and tucked them into the travel streamers that would carry them, sleeping, to their tiny bulbs, beneath the soils of Earth.

In our time, weeks have passed since then.  And now the little crocuses have pushed through the soil and opened to the sun, radiating their joy out into the world and waltzing gracefully in the breeze.

They have no idea, of course, how they delight my eyes as I walk past them in the morning, or how deeply they touch my heart with joy.  And no one knows that when I look at them, I think I sense divas smiling down from sky and catch faint strains of Tchaikovsky wafting on the breeze.