Spring has burst into full flower early this year. The cherry blossoms that delight us in the DC area have reached their peak early. It has been a delight to witness their beauty.
This evening I will share a table with twelve women who know and love me well, belatedly celebrating my February 19th birthday. In honor of this beautiful season, we are bringing the cherry blossoms into our celebration.
The youngest at the table will be my goddaughter, Megan. She is 17 years and Candy's youngest child. She brings the fresh, sweetness of youthful maiden to our conversations with a gentle wisdom, beyond her years. May the pink blossoms on delicate branches remind us of our youth as girls.
I am delighted to share this evening's celebration with my daughter-in-love, Leigh. She is married to my son, Michael, and the mother of my third granddaughter, Avery Madeline, 6 months. Leigh's birthday is in March and we'll share the honors of this celebration, she as a new mother, reminding all of us of that time in our lives. May the curved, upturned branches of the cherry tree hold us, as in a mother's arms.
This circle of women includes two I have known for more than 40 years...yes, we were Megan's age,17, when Candy, Roe and I met as freshman in college. We have shared many seasons in our friendship as maidens, as mothers, now moving into that 3rd stage of life, as wise women approaching cronehood.
Through these four decades we have celebrated birthdays, weddings, babies and graduations and supported one another through many losses and transitions. We have a depth of knowing, and being known by one another, that brings comfort and joy to our lives. May the rootedness of the cherry tree, weathered and true, remind us of our strength, purpose and beauty.
As the world turns, it is these sweet moments I adore...time with these dear women who share the journey that we call Life... and I recognize as precious and ephemeral the time we share together.
In honor of this celebration, I am reprinting a piece offered in 2009. Timeless and true, as the cherry blossom.
In China the cherry blossom symbolizes feminine beauty, the feminine principle, or love in the language of flowers. In Japan cherry blossoms also symbolize clouds due to their nature of bloomingen masse, besides being an enduring metaphor for the ephemeral nature of life, an aspect of Japanese cultural tradition that is often associated with Buddhistic influence, and which is embodied in the concept of mono no aware.
The association of the cherry blossom with mono no awaredates back to 18th-century scholar Motoori Norinaga. The transience of the blossoms, the extreme beauty and quick death, has often been associated with mortality; for this reason, cherry blossoms are richly symbolic, and have been utilized often in Japanese art, manga, anime, and film, as well as at musical performances for ambient effect. The band Kagrra, which is associated with the visual kei movement, is an example of this latter phenomenon. There is at least one popular folk song, originally meant for the shakuhachi (bamboo flute), titled "Sakura", and several pop songs. The flower is also represented on all manner of consumer goods in Japan, including kimono, stationery, and dishware.
Cherry blossom is an omen of good fortune and is also an emblem of love, affection and represents spring. Cherry blossoms are an enduring metaphor for the fleeting nature of life, and as such are frequently depicted in art.
Japan gave 3,020 cherry blossom trees as a gift to the United States in 1912 to celebrate the nations' then-growing friendship. These trees were planted in Sakura Park in Manhattan and famously line the shore of the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C. (see West Potomac Park), and the gift was renewed with another 3,800 trees in 1965. The cherry blossom trees continue to be a popular tourist attraction (and the subject of the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival) when they reach full bloom in early spring.
The challenge of Sukura..the fleeting nature of these delicate blooms in spring... speak to the transcendent experience of our fragile lives. These fleeting moments in relationship...how precious our time together. Yet,how often do we seek to protect ourselves from hurt or loss? And in this distancing from those we love, what is crushed in the passing of this season?
I have been creating a new awareness for myself through this dormancy. I have been "offline" for several months and have taken a deeper dive into "what matters most". Pride often steps in to distance me from the easy connections with those I love. I am learning as I go. Being able to transcend my "what's right and fair" to being fully engaged requires giving up my old story and stepping into "what can be".
The longer I live, the more I know that I would rather be "in relationship" than "be right". Too much water over the dam. Too little time left to enjoy.
Sakura...fragile blossom of spring...you delight me!