This morning when I go to fetch the paper and take Bonnie around the house, I notice our front porch is covered in bud scales from the rhododendron. The bush is bursting with pink, heavy from last night’s rain. I bend in to study the emerging flowers and marvel that I’ve never noticed how they shed an outer skin as they open to the sun. The pasty yellow-green scales overlap like shingles, providing protection for the sleeping bud. When petals begin to unfold, fanlike, the shingles drop away, making room for light and bumblebees to have their way.
All around my yard, color succumbs to time. The irises flop over on their sides, surrendering to the exertion of holding up heavy, bearded heads. The peony cascades like a fountain, splitting down its leafy middle. The lilac bush already fades to brown at her tips, rustling like paper in the breeze.
Spring is tired.
Time greens on nearby hills and I am stalled, lost in a deep inhale. In a couple hours, we will make the long drive to pick up our boy for the summer—his first year of college already a memory. This morning I gather up a few words, trying to slow down the moments, trying to let the breath escape slowly between my lips.
I’ve asked it over and over through the years: How do I slow down time?
It’s the same old cliché, same old fate we all fall into. The more I am trapped by the busy, the less I see the holy in each ticking second. To slow down time, I must be present, right where I am.
Sunday is Pentecost and I have sown that missing button on the one red blouse hanging in the closet. It’s the day we celebrate God sending the Holy Spirit down to us—we call it the birthday of the church. There will be balloons and streamers, probably birthday cake. But this week, as I have contemplated that old story of the tongues of flame falling from heaven, I have been more gentle with myself. I don’t mind singing Happy Birthday in church, it’s fun, to be sure. But as I contemplate this truth, that God lives inside of me, I wonder why my life doesn’t look … different.
Once again I make a promise to myself and to God: I will do better. It’s a lesson in seeing; a lesson in being. When I tune my senses to my immediate surroundings, I am aware of the temple I inhabit—I feel the Spirit stir inside me. Jesus said that a grain of wheat must fall to the ground and die before it grows. This must be how the dying feels.
I bend again and look at the scales from the rhododendron’s bloom pod. And I wonder anew at the beauty that can come from this kind of slow surrender.