A petal floats to the hardwood table before me. The bright pink veins contrast against the cedar’s rusty brown. The smell permeates the air, a reminder that Spring is upon us and the world is okay.
Peonies are fragile. They bloom for but a few days before disappearing again, unappreciated until the next year’s time.
Those in front of me now are the ones that I chose to set on my table. Guilt pricked at my soul as I snipped them from their stalks. I immediately placed them into the water, hoping to keep them as long as possible. I know it’s selfish. I ought to leave them happily basking in the sun. Yet, on my table, I can enjoy them more. They’re so beautiful, yet fragile. They are a small slice of happiness. A simple reminder of God’s goodness.
Even as I cut them from their stalks, I know that their chances for survival are minimal. They usually last about a week before they smolder into dried nothingness.
Yet, as I sit here at my table, allowing their beauty and fragrance to overwhelm me, the thunder rumbles in the distance. Its fury grows as it growls through the heavens, making its disturbance known to the universe.
I sigh, noting the time, heading off to bed.
Throughout the night, the thunder echoes and lightning flashes through my dreams.
The next morning, I awake to debris scattered across the yard. The view from my window is chaos. I note that the trees in our yard have had their limbs rent from them, scattered carelessly across the yard. The neighbor’s roof shingles have spotted their grass, their porch chairs turned sideways.
Then I notice the peony bushes. Those that I had left alone only the day before have been pelted by the storm winds and hail. They’ve been demolished, utterly unrecognizable from the day before as I gathered their betters to adorn my table.
The guilt I felt at snipping them has changed. It’s now an understanding that I have saved them from that terrible storm.
That moment of pain as they were cut from their environment actually caused them to live on longer rather than if they’d been left in comfort, their beauty to live on beyond those that were left nestled in the comfort of the flower bed.
Isn’t that the way of life? So often, Life causes us pain, which at the time seems unbearable. Yet, when we look back, we can see that they temporary pain of a separation or of something taken from us is far less than that which we may have suffered otherwise. Those fragile peonies were actually made stronger than their counterparts by having suffered a moment of separation from their comfortable environment. Yet, that moment of pain created for them a longevity which the others would never know. For theirs was a storm that pulverized them rather than a simple snip of the sheers.
So, in those moments of pain, remember that there is One who finds you so beautiful and cherishes you so much, that He is sometimes willing to allow that pain in order to draw you to Him… that in that drawing you to Him, He might shield you from greater pain which is yet unknown.