Fleeting Beauty - My dear friend Anne and her magnolia tree.
April 23, 2022
I ponder every year why the magnificent magnolia tree flowers for such a short time. I wait with huge winter longing to see those pale green buds forming in early spring and then suddenly they burst open with their enormous beautiful flowers. Every year, within days, either a hard frost or strong winds have swept them all away and I can’t help wondering why a thing of such beauty is so short lived.
Years ago my friend Anne taught me to kiss the growing buds and to feel the soft fuzz on my lips as with the promise of young love. Why are things of such beauty so quick to disappear? Maybe we wouldn’t appreciate them if they were there all year round, maybe like all precious things we need to know what life is like without them, in order to appreciate life with them. When Anne moved into her house 40 years ago she planted a small magnolia on her lawn.
Over my 30 years of knowing her, the tree has sheltered us from sun and rain, had endless parties beneath its boughs, paper wishes tied to its limbs and ribbons decorating its foliage. Every year the top moves further from the earth and its display becomes ever grander. As Anne sits now, nearly 90 years old in her cabin looking over the garden, pondering her life and the beautiful garden she created with David, I asked her what she sees. “I see fleeting memories, ghost like figures moving around the tree. Beautiful memories of times past and I watch again their fleeting beauty.”
I love history and like looking back to remind myself that there have been good leaders with morals even if they lived centuries ago! Have you heard of the ‘Five Good Emperors’ of Rome? The last was Marcus Aurelius who lived 161 to 180 AD. He was one of the most respected emperors in Roman history. He was a philosopher with an intellectual interest in Stoicism which is a philosophy based on reason, fate, and self-restraint.
We all need comforting at sad times, and it is a privilege to help friends in need and reach out with loving arms and hearts. It is also really important not to spend too long there! Being helpful is one thing, being enmeshed is quite another.