I have this annoying habit of being stopped completely by nature. I say annoying only because I can set off on what is planned to be a quick jog, or a brisk walk and have it end up being a very short jog with a long pause involved. The long pause being the time I spend just gazing at whatever it is that stopped me. Sometimes it’s a beautiful scene; Mount Warning in all her glory. Other times its just a tiny little flower I stepped over amongst the grass. And there I am, leaning in closely to see if it is a weed (most of the time I’m not sure!) and peering closely at the shape of the flower petals with a strong sense of gratitude.
I get distracted pretty easy (anyone else?!). I love coming up with ideas, but I’m not so good at following them through to completion. Being distracted by nature never seems to have the same effect on me though. It’s almost like I enter a time warp, everything stops, and there is just this moment of time in which I am completely and utterly focused.
I had one of those the other day. I was pedalling my bike along a usual street, looking around to see what had changed and been fixed up since the flood, and then, out of nowhere, there was this absolutely deep, bright yellow tree on my left. The sky was so blue, the yellow seemed to bounce off it and stand illuminated even more brightly.
I dumped my bike, and took a quick couple of pics with my iPhone.
I lay underneath the canopy and enjoyed the warm sun on my face and the contrast of the blue and yellow. I breathed deeply and exhaled, and suddenly I was overflowing with gratitude. What a scene! The retinas of my eyes were just soaking in all this incredible colour and I remember thinking “how can that just pop out of a big bang?”
Life felt full, and joyous. I rode my bike away feeling completely content and at peace in the world. In that moment, everything was a balmy spring day.
I would love to tell you that was the end, but its not. I decided to go back, 6 days later, and visit ‘my’ tree, take another picture in the afternoon sun, and re live the moment. Instead, I was greeted with this.
How stark is the comparison? The day looks cold, chilly and wintery. As the evening starts to take hold in these images, the trees look dead. Just dead. Their profusion of colour gone. Withered on the ground in drying, decaying burnt umber masses, the blooms are completely void of life and hope. The place you find yourself on a tough day. When death is close, when life seems too hard and too empty. Dead trees. How can this be the very same place?
It crossed my mind to show you the dead trees first you know. Tell you it was like death coming to life. That’s not what happened though and I kinda feel like maybe that would be a cliché anyhow. I saw the life budding colour first, and returned to find it useless looking and empty. Dead.
Now would be a perfectly good time to ask why I have called this “A Gratitude Post!”
It’s a funny thing, I looked at this dead, wasteland clump of trees, and yes, it was sad that the tree would not be a place I would want to linger and drink in spring anymore. However, the emotion in my heart was still gratitude.
I’ve been thinking about that a fair bit. The brightness and joy of the yellow trees in full bloom was so full of excellence, I didn’t feel the coldness of the bleak dead trees quite so much. It was still the yellow hue that was burned into my mind. The stark contrast also really helped me to better appreciate the colour and vibrancy of my first visit. A memory that will be fondly kept. Perhaps next year I can visit the tree before it blooms and capture the before and after!
Perhaps the tree bloomed so beautifully because of the flood!
A gentle reminder that there will be both good times and bad times in life. That sometimes its important to be still and have gratitude in the crazy busy lives we lead. To be intentionally thankful and present. When the stark cold bad days come, may we all have a bank of gratitude moments to reflect on which help pull us through to the next bright blue sky and brilliant yellow blooms of spring.