Last night, as I was walking in from shutting up the chickens for the night, they glowed. Almost as if moonlight was dancing on their petals, except there was no moon. These salmon-pink impatiens were lighting up the night for me. It was a welcome blessing after one of those days when just about everything comes colored with sadness.
I had no hard and fast reason for the melancholy beyond just the struggles that come with life – money and striving and too much, you know, the general “too much.” But I had spent much of the day with that prickle at the back of my eye or in the tears that I have learned are best to let fall.
Crying and writing – those are my ways through.
So when those impatiens glowed up at me in the dusk, I breathed deep, remembered to look for beauty, and decided to go to bed early.
When we were kids, my brother and I had just a few regular chores. I had to set the table; he had to clear it. I dusted. He vacuumed. Together, we used pliers to pick up the chestnut burrs in the driveway, and we weeded the impatien bed off the deck of our mountain house.
The bed was huge, at least to small hands, and both of us groaned when we were told to go weed. We knew this chore well – the children of a horticulturist in a family where the garden was not only lovely but also necessary – and we knew it meant tedium. But we did it because – in that magical way – we thought didn’t have a choice.
Here’s what I realize now – we probably only weeded that bed once or twice a year because as the summer came on, those impatiens grew together into a mass that shaded out any weed that tried to come between them, just as they have done in Mom’s garden in front of our farmhouse this year.
What in my memory is a heavy chore was probably something I only had to 5 or 6 times in my life. I have made it a burden harder to carry than it was.
Many people talk about “seasons” in that Ecclesiastical/Peter Paul & Mary way – “to everything there is a season” – and there is certainly a wavy truth there behind the lingo. For me, though, seasons are this – cycles, patterns, real and honest. The way I know I can plant 12 impatiens in a scattered clump and that if I get them just close enough, they will grow in and fill the gaps.
I wonder if money and friendship and life all round isn’t a bit like this. . . that if we do what comes to us, if we seize the hand of the ones who walk into our paths, we don’t grow together enough to shade out – for that summer season – those weeds that we must pluck out by hand when we begin.
I wonder if, then, we don’t all glow into the night.