Bee Balm

Mine’s blooming! Look! Is yours? Is yours blooming yet? – My mom.


There is a language to flowers, one that includes and amplifies the obvious. Recurring beauty; vivid, glorious color. The power of nature and the gift of love.

But there’s more. Recently, my ear caught a powerful statement from James Bryant Smith. While discussing the nature of beauty in the world and how it is part of his spiritual life, he said something like, In the beauty all around me, I receive it as a way of God loving me. 

Not “evidence that God loves me”, or “how God shows his love for me,”, but the verb. An active verb.

Beauty is love.

Beauty is also connection. Years ago, my mom borrowed and nurtured a plant from my grandmother’s home in Pennsylvania to Virginia soil and watched it explode majestically. It was, always, “Gommer’s flower.”

Now we do the same. Mom brought over bee balm and black-eyed Susans a few years ago, and when they bloom in her yard, they bloom in mine.

Odd metaphor, that; shared blooms that blossom in the separate soils of where we’ve ended up. They are alike, they are connected; but they reside in divergent spaces, and therefore are completely different, separate entities.

Our pastor taught on self-differentiation today, incorporating solid Biblical evidence of messed up families who navigated dysfunction not all that different from our own. The idea of differentiation is that at some point, you respectfully say, You get to choose for yourself how you’re going to live; I get to choose my way. There need be no judgement of right or wrong, better or worse – just a simple understanding that everybody gets to choose. In healthy families, everybody chooses.

I was thinking about that today, watching my bee balm grow, knowing my mom’s bee balm is doing the same, simultaneously. Is there anything harder than the entanglement of parents and adult children as everybody grow older, when you want to do so much for them, but the risk of over functioning is so high? When they need some help, but not too much help. When brains are sharp and hearts are big, but limbs move with hesitation and reflexes are slower. It’s hard to know where to stand, sometimes. It’s hard to walk away and feel like you’ve done enough.

It’s hard.

But it’s life, right? It is a natural process, and the blessings abound, for those with eyes to see. We take it as it comes.

Legacy is rich and complicated, even as we struggle to embrace seasons of growth, drought and rain alike. It is what is it, and still we stand and bloom, true to ourselves, bearing a strong resemblence, even as we grow in different gardens.


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