The azaleas seemed to burst open with color out of nowhere. One day, they seemed to be ordinary green bushes. The next, they were vibrant with the most beautiful array of colors. It happened in what seems to be overnight. In a symphony orchestrated by God, he opens the blooms and the magnificence shines so brightly. It is amazing to see and experience. It really is hard not to notice the vibrant colors. You have to work to not see it. Even in our over-caffeinated worlds, we can still experience the beauty.
On the contrast, there are pecan trees. The one in my side yard is the late bloomer. Every other tree has buds, blooms and leaves. But not the pecan tree. For a few years, I was sure it was dead. I was convinced it was not coming back the next year. And then, in some unexpected way, it makes its appearance – slow and methodical. I notice the buds form and when it is time, there are leaves. Eventually, there will be pecans – or at least what the squirrels don’t take before they fall ripe and ready.
Time is the key in all of this. We don’t try to open azalea blooms before they are ready – that would be a disaster. We don’t give up on pecan trees simply because they didn’t blossom when all of the other trees did. It is all based on time – and this timing is not ours. There is a time and a season for everything. That includes grief. Grief has its own time schedule – we don’t get to set it or alter it. We can try and rush it but it would be more disastrous than trying to open the azalea blooms before their time. It won’t work. Grief sometimes creeps along, seeming to linger in our lives way longer than we think it should. It is like the house guest who outstays the welcome. And then, as if it is out of nowhere, grief improves. We feel relieved. We feel a sense of peace and calm. We begin to see the clearing, understanding that we are not in this alone. It doesn’t mean the grief has passed. It simply means it has changed. It has taken on a new part in our lives. We begin to cope and process differently.
The thing is – no one else knows our timeline of grief either. They may be expecting azaleas and you may be a pecan tree. No one else gets to set our time frame. They don’t get to determine where we should be in this journey and when. They don’t get to decide what ‘getting better’ looks like. They don’t even get to tell us what they think we should do because they have been through something similar. What they do have the privilege to do is to sit with us and watch. They can nurture and love. They can wait for the blooms and celebrate when all is not dormant any longer. They can’t force open the blossoms, but they can experience the beauty. That’s what friends do.
No matter where you may find yourself today, know we are all on a different timeline. You may feel you are still dormant, never to bloom again. Hold on, there is still time – God’s time and your grief’s time. You may be concerned because you are feeling better and you are blooming. It can be scary to see improvement when you have lingered in grief for a while. Know that this is natural and a part of the process. It is okay to be scared and a little worried. Blooms will become a part of who we are once more. All comes together in just the right time. Take it one moment at a time. God is with us. You are not alone.