When the beauty of Spring is in full bloom here in Arizona, the flowers I grew up with in the South always come to mind. The beauty of magnolias, dogwoods, roses, azaleas, camellias, and wisterias linger with me over the years. Not only do I remember their loveliness and fragrance, there are also memories associated with them.
I remember the stately huge magnolia tree in my front yard when I was a child. The shiny, dark green leaves were a backdrop for the pure white magnolias. I learned quickly that when the white petals were touched, they would turn brown. Watching the stages of a magnolia begin to bud, then slowly open wide to a full bloom, was simply breathtaking to me.
My aunt’s front yard was covered with her award-winning, prize camellia and rose bushes. Each bush would display vivid hues of either red, pink, white, or yellow flowers, sometimes grafted together for a blend of color. I had permission to carefully snip a few flowers to float in a crystal bowl that would make any table look stunning.
Azaleas lined yards and drive-ways in neighborhoods, so gorgeous they looked like a painting on canvas.
Dogwood trees could be spotted in yards and growing wild in the woods. They adorned landmarks, city streets, and parks. The legend of the dogwood is that the flower symbolizes the crucifixion of Christ and the cross was made from the wood of the tree. That age-old story is generally told at Easter when the dogwood flowers.
And then there was the wisteria vine….how sweet the memory, how permeating the fragrance.
Across the long driveway to my grandmother’s house grew a magnificent, glorious wisteria vine with long purple flowers that looked like large grape clusters. Wisteria vines are strong and sturdy, and they usually twine around trees, fences, or porch roofs. This particular one wrapped around a large oak tree. My cousins and I would pull loose one of the vines and swing across the driveway from a perch in the old oak tree. We got hours of entertainment out of swinging on that vine.
This memory carries a special meaning for me the older I get. The vine that wrapped around the oak tree is like God’s love wrapped around me and you. The wisteria vine had become so strong and sturdy with time that nothing could disentangle it from the oak tree. Similarly, God’s love is so strong and sturdy that nothing can separate His love from us.
That enchanting, dangling vine that held me as I would swing across the driveway is much like God’s arms that have carried me across many miles of life. He has held me through the good times, the hard times and many life changes.
I pray that you, too, will feel God’s love wrapped around you, and His arms holding you close as you face change and transition in life.
This Spring, take the time to stop and smell the flowers, watch a sunrise, a sunset, and embrace the beauty of nature. Don’t miss the moment, or the memory of God’s handiwork. Who knows – you might even catch a closer glimpse of God and what He might be teaching you.
From My Heart,
Excerpt from Susan’s updated and expanded book, After the Boxes are Unpacked.