One Red Tulip

It’s back again; that one gorgeous red tulip that pops up each spring in the back yard. It blooms among the dandelions and purple violets, standing tall with its petals raised to the sun. I think that my late mother-in-law, Hazel, planted it years ago.

There is something cheery about tulips, especially the red ones. Seeing that one red tulip each year makes me think of all those little miracles that are generously sprinkled in our lives. I find myself looking these days for small signs that my parents are together again and celebrating their love.

That tulip gives me hope; red being the color of love, and tulips were my mother’s favorite flowers.

Honestly, there is so much unhappiness and unkindness in our world today that we need these miracles to remind us that there is always hope. As more and more people inhabit this planet, it seems that there is more hatred, selfishness, hurt and sorrow than there used to be. Compassion, kindness, love, gratitude, hope and joy seem thin on the ground.

But when I hear of an act of kindness, it gives me hope. When I hear of an anonymous gift given to someone in need, it gives me hope. When I hear of animals rescued and helped and healed, it gives me hope. When I see forgiveness, it gives me hope. When I see love, it gives me hope.

And when I see that beautiful red tulip in the spring, it too gives me hope.

Changing the World: The Girl With the Ukulele

I don’t know if you follow the show, “America’s Got Talent” as I do, but this year in it there is a 12-year old girl who plays the ukulele and sings *her own songs. Her name is Grace VanderWaal, and she is amazing. She has the kind of voice you can’t forget; high, a little croaky in places and breathy in others, but it is enchanting and unique.

Hers is the kind of voice you hear from an old soul. Her lyrics are unusual and thought-provoking, her timing and delivery is perfect, and her poise and conviction as she sings is both heart-breaking and breath-taking. After the first time I saw her perform, I couldn’t get that voice out of my head. Her songs are magnetic and true, and I think that she has a rare gift to give this world.

I’ve said it before, but it seems that even in the midst of all the terrible things going on in the world now and all the awful things that divide us; still there is hope. It may come in different ways:

  • a community who comes together to care for a homeless family
  • one person who decides to make a random act of kindness each day
  • a woman who loves to knit, and makes dozens of warm scarves, mittens, and hats, and leaves them in the park for people who need them to find
  • a man who makes dozens of sandwiches every day and delivers them to hungry people
  • a child who befriends the new kid at school
  • a dog nobody wanted that gets a home and a family who loves him
  • a sports figure who befriends a sick child in the hospital
  • a smile from anyone

….or it could be a young girl with a unique voice, playing a ukulele.

*These are the lyrics to the song she wrote about her best friend, her older sister. The song is called “It’s a Beautiful Thing:”

“You think that you know my heart
And you probably do
So I’m always with you
I could stay with you for hours
In an empty room
Never get bored
Never have nothing to do

You’re my other half
You’re what makes me, me
What makes me smile
When I fall down and can’t get back, get back, get back up
On my feet

[Chorus]
You’re a beautiful thing
We’re a beautiful thing together
Even when the weather is low
We can find the rainbow
Up in the sky
You’d say don’t you cry, it’s all gonna be alright
That’s a beautiful thing

Make hours into seconds together
The weight of the world feel like a feather
Cause we’re holding it right in our hands

You’re my other half
What makes me, me
What makes me smile
When I fall down and need to get back up on my feet

[Chorus]
You’re a beautiful thing
We’re a beautiful thing together
Even when the weather is low
We can find the rainbow
Up in the sky
You’d say don’t you cry, it’s all gonna be alright
No, it’s all gonna be alright
That’s a beautiful thing!”

“All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.” ― *Julian of Norwich

How many times have I heard this quote! When I am experiencing trouble or worry, this quote is the refrain I keep in my mind. For me it means that our lives and all we do (or don’t do) in them are all under the loving eye of <insert whatever deity is your own here>; that ultimately, all is well.

When the waves are so high that we cannot see the shore, we have to believe that it is there, and that we will reach it. When there are so many boulders in our path that we can’t see our way over, around or through, there is a passage; we just have to look or it. When all and everyone seems to desert us, we aren’t alone—ever.

If we had the eyes and intelligence of an omnipotent being, we would see the world we live in as another spec of dust in the cosmos. But that omnipotent being still has love and understanding for us, and wants us to be happy. It sees all of us, not as a clump of humanity inhabiting this tiny spec of dust; but a living, breathing, intelligent organism that is precious and valued in its eyes.

These days when there are so many terrible disasters; both from mankind and from nature, we can feel helpless and hopeless. ‘What can I do about any of this?’ we cry. ‘There is too much fear and horror and sadness—how can we help?’

What we can do is to NOT let all of this fester inside us and make us scared, bitter or worried. Unless we are directly involved and can actually do something to help what has happened, here are some things that we can do:

  • If you know any of those directly affected, weep with them, put your arms around them, comfort them and be there for them. If you don’t know them, send them love and prayers.
  • Do not let yourself be overwhelmed in sorrow. When remembering those who have been injured or have died, picture them in your mind, surrounded by never-ending love and comfort.
  • If you yourself become overwhelmed with sorrow and pity, let your tears cleanse your pain; don’t hold back.
  • Do not dwell on what may happen next; it is not given to any of us to know that.
  • Be the best you that you can be. Don’t let these disasters make you bitter or fearful.

I’m sure that this is the corniest statement I’ve made since I began this blog, but I stand by it: don’t give up hope. Don’t give up on all of us living on this little ball of mud. For everything that is bad, there is far more good than we know. For everything that seems hopeless, there is still a lot of hope. For all those things that make us sad and worried, there are scores of people quietly doing good things.

When I am lying in bed, sleepless, my mind full of worry or sadness or fear or doubt, this is the mantra I keep in my head: “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.” Try it out for yourself. It is surprisingly upbeat and comforting.

*[From justus.anglican.org/resources/bio/154.html]

“The Lady Juliana was born about 1342, and when she was thirty years old, she became gravely ill and was expected to die. Then, on the seventh day, the medical crisis passed, and she had a series of fifteen visions, or “showings,” in which she was led to contemplate the Passion of Christ. These brought her great peace and joy.

She became an anchoress [or anchorite, a religious hermit], living in a small hut near to the church in Norwich, where she devoted the rest of her life to prayer and contemplation of the meaning of her visions. The results of her meditations she wrote in a book called Revelations of Divine Love, available in modern English in a Penguin Paperback edition.

During her lifetime, she became known as a counselor, whose advice combined spiritual insight with common sense, and many persons came to speak with her. Since her death, many more have found help in her writings.

….She describes seeing God holding a tiny thing in his hand, like a small brown nut, which seemed so fragile and insignificant that she wondered why it did not crumble before her eyes. She understood that the thing was the entire created universe, which is as nothing compared to its Creator, and she was told, ‘God made it, God loves it, God keeps it.'”