You May Say I’m a Dreamer

Spring in the garden is rolling out just as Mother Nature intended.

The daffodils, crocus, and tulips were the first to emerge from their winter sleep, dotting the landscape with pastel splashes of hope. As they took their last bows, the crabapple trees and lilacs burst onstage with showy displays of pink, magenta, purple, and white. Today the moonlight and lydia broom are happily hosting honeybees in their cheerful, yellow blossoms. Perhaps tomorrow the roses will bloom.

Every year I watch this gradual awakening in amazement. Every living thing in the garden knows its purpose and its time. It’s the most harmonious thing I’ve ever seen. It reminds me of a fine orchestra playing a classic symphony. The woodwinds, strings, percussion, and brass all have unique parts in the arrangement but somehow manage to blend together in consummate crescendo.

I’d like to say that this picture brings pleasant music to my heart and my lips – perhaps Pete Seeger’s 1962 Turn, Turn, Turn or John Denver’s 1971 Sunshine on My Shoulders. Normally, I think it would. But today it makes me sad – sad that the same sweet harmony I see in my garden is not likely to ever roll across humanity and push society forward in a way that benefits all.

All the hate and fighting that has tainted our world for centuries is finding fresh, new battlegrounds every day. Whether the issue is politics, religion, disease, natural disasters, power or money, humankind uses it as fodder for more division, more blame, more discord. It seems there is no appetite in this world for peace, or at least there is not enough hunger for it.

Even I – a self-described Pollyanna – am having trouble seeing a way out of the darkness that’s enveloping every corner of the planet. Each day it gets harder to look at the bright side of life, harder to share the joy that can still be found if we care to look for it. It’s disheartening, to be sure.

And yet, I persist. Because that is my purpose. I’ve spent most of my life trying to make the world a better place by helping others, writing stories laced with lessons, and otherwise letting my light shine. When God assigned me to this Earth, He put a pen in my pocket, a smile on my face, and a kind word on my lips. This is no time to throw away my tools and give up.

Like the plants in my garden and the instruments in an orchestra, I will continue to play my part. I can only hope that what I do – and what others like me also do – brings some measure of peace to this troubled world. Even if I write only one story that inspires someone, share one smile that comforts someone, or say one kind word that encourages someone, it will be worth the effort.

Maybe I’m ready for a song now. With thanks to John Lennon … “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will be as one.”

Game Changer

Often, friends who like the rose photos I publish on Facebook offer one-word comments like stunning and perfect. Just as often, I wonder if they would choose the same words had I posted a picture of the same rose from another angle.

My photography techniques are not trade secrets. Tip the camera to hide the brown edges of a less-than-perfect petal. Crouch down to look up at a blossom and capture the blue sky above. Position yourself between the sun and the flower to soften the light.

Alien SpaceshipThis past summer I came across an Adobe rose that begged for a creative shot. The petals looked a bit more ruffled around the edges than most but, straight on, it was fairly nondescript. Everything changed when I positioned the camera at a slightly downward angle. All I could think was yowza. The flower suddenly looked like a futuristic spacecraft from a sci-fi movie.

Perspective is a game changer – in the garden and in life.

You know the feeling when you suddenly see something in a way you had never considered. The proverbial light bulb turns on, and you move forward with a new understanding. The result may be as simple as putting a puzzling question to rest or as dramatic as altering the course of your life.

Perspective loomed large in an exchange I had last week with someone I hold dear. This man is a musician. A good one. He’s not famous, but he is prolific and genuinely amazing.

And he is suddenly almost deaf.

Certainly, loud music diminished his hearing over the years. But something new and traumatic, something that I don’t completely understand, has robbed him of this precious sense. While he waits to see a specialist, the spoken word is nearly unintelligible and music sounds like nonsense.

Could anything be more tragic to a musician? Apparently, the answer to that question is yes.

Although there is a measure of sadness, he is less concerned about being able to perform than he is about having a conversation with his wife. Even more profound are his thoughts about hearing vs sight. He always assumed that, if he had to choose between the two, he would choose blindness. Not anymore.

From the perspective of near deafness, he would choose to see. For the rest of his life, no matter what happens with his hearing, he will always be able to turn the music on in his head. Not seeing his loved ones or the ever-changing world around him would be too great a sacrifice.

I’ve never really thought of this person – this incredibly gifted but sometimes ungrounded spirit – as a wise man. It turns out he is.

Now when I look at the snapshot of my rose garden spacecraft, I picture him – opening himself up to a different life he would never have considered had his perspective not changed. If this story was a Facebook post, I would comment bold, beautiful, and brave. I aspire to that level of grace.