On a beautiful spring day I found myself on a wildflower hike. It was one of those days when the temperature is like that last bed in the Goldilocks story: just right. It had rained earlier in the week and there was a cool, lingering dampness in the woods. A breeze teased my nose with the sweet scent of flowering locust trees.
I made my way along a narrow footpath that followed a creek as it rose up the mountain and suddenly there were flocks of dwarf iris tucked into every corner. Deep green leaf blades rose from the dank ground and the still-wet leaf mulch of winter formed the perfect backdrop for their shockingly purple blooms. The iris were the opening act for a true treasure: a showy orchis. A shy mountain native, its vibrant fuchsia blooms rose to meet the breeze from long, slender stems. What a privilege it was to see one. At the top of the mountain the soil turned loamy and pale pink shell azalea and mountain laurel bloomed on the rocky ridge.
I was lucky my rare day off fell into the wildflowers’ tiny crack of time. They arrive in between the last freeze and the greening of the forest canopy. In the life of a wildflower, timing is everything. They are literally there one day and gone the next. Spring is their midwife and they bloom from the dankest, most rotten soil on the mountain. They lift themselves from pools of melted snow and spring rain into shafts of sunlight that will soon disappear. They bloom from corners where the wild winds of winter blew the leaves of fall against ancient trunks and drink deeply of melting snow and spring rains. Wildflowers bloom when and where they can in the most unexpected of places.
Our moist, dark places give birth to beautiful things, too. All new life requires rich nutrients. You can’t grow a healthy plant from thin, exhausted soil. So, I think it’s kind of ridiculous that our society goes to such lengths to avoid hard times, grief and sorrow, skirt around it or pretend it doesn’t exist. It’s ridiculous because every trial we undergo, every grief we experience, every hardship we endure, and every tear we shed is a nutrient for new life. It’s not easy to sit with these dark things of life (I’ve done my share of sitting with dark stuff and watering it with tears.), but it’s just as important as the happy, bright times because when shafts of light finally pour down into the dark, moist, nutrient rich places of our souls, wildly beautiful things are born!
Life may seem dark now, but believe in nature’s promise – from moist, dark places comes new life!