Every day someone somewhere is celebrating this or that. So many flowers. So many pretty colors. Holidays and social convention train us to identify with an arrangement of flowers the depth of one’s feeling; dare I say, even one’s love for another. Yet, too often these flowers are not found in rich soil to grow with roots and a future. They are dead. Beautiful things cut off from the plant and destined to a slow wilting death. The poet immediately asserts himself and finds symmetry in this that we are too stubborn to admit: love is most often as ephemeral as those flowers. Beautiful bouquets of bright, dying colors and sweet, cloying fragrances.

As I get older I allow myself the illusion of wisdom. It isn’t much more than that. The wisest man is only the most honest fool. Even so I have, in my time, come to think of love not as a bouquet of flowers, but a garden. In the myths of the world, very often you will see gardens are the placeholders for the idea of heaven. Why is that?

The greatest feeling one can feel in this world is to be truly and utterly loved, without conditions or qualifications. That is paradise.

And yet, just as oceans are deep but their water can be held in a drop in the palm of one’s hand without being something else, so too can love be. Great or small it simply is. And as water, it is just as transformative.

Which brings me back to the garden. It must be tended. Commitment must be made. Pleasure and beauty will often be harvested yes, but so too will problems occasionally arise. A flower is a dead thing if cut from its plant. Bouquets are full of ephemeral beauty. Those flowers, taking root in a garden of one’s own is far more beautiful, for there still is life. Not the memory of a beautiful thing now dying, but that beauty still thriving! The world is such that even amid the darkness we sow, gardens still grow. Flowers persist. Let us not pluck them to prove our love, instead let us plant more. And perhaps illuminate places where darkness may roam in order that even more may grow.

The greatest give I can receive is not a flower, but rather an invitation to your garden.

Psyche in the Garden – Abbott Fuller Graves (ca. 1930)

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