On Fall and Aging….


It is mid-October. Fall is here. The air was damp and cool this morning when I took the dogs out on our morning walk. Typically it is still dark when I start out, but today I lingered over my journaling and coffee longer than usual. I wanted to give the sun a little time to raise the temperature a bit more. When the grandfather clock in the hallway struck 8:00 a.m., I told the dogs we’d have to accept 45 degrees because we’ve got things to do, people to see and places to go.

There is a hydrangea near the gate that has bloomed a beautiful pink all summer long, in spite of being dug up from the perfect spot at my former home and placed in a patio pot in my temporary one. I am without a greenhouse for now and, after hearing rumors that this coming season is going to be brutal, last weekend I transplanted the hydrangea, hibiscus, and several other potted plants to the ground. Fingers crossed, this saves their roots from the freeze. Transplanting causes trauma; sometimes they bounce back quickly, sometimes not at all. They would definitely not survive in the pots, so moving them was necessary. This was not unlike Moses’ mother setting him on the river. We do the best we know to do and pray it is enough.

As the dogs and I went out the gate, I glanced down at the hydrangea. I had anticipated it would quickly go dormant from the stress. But, that was not the case at all. She simply changed into her fall fashion.

I just love this phase of her blooms as they near the end of their lives. Muted colors, nothing extreme, but still so very beautiful. I was struck by this hard this morning. The blooms are aging, it is true, the true bright pink of summer has faded and has become more subtle. The blooms are starting to droop. The petals are covered with spots and flaws; but are they any less beautiful? I don’t think so.

It never fails that my Creator provides something I need, when I need it. Today it was the lesson of this hydrangea. I’m aging and lately I have felt the process is going too fast. It has made me sad. My brown hair with red undertones is fading to grey. My body is drooping. My skin is spotted and flawed. But, I don’t even give myself the grace I eagerly offer to a plant in the corner of my yard.

The older the wine, the more it is valued. Antiques are passed from generation to generation. Diamonds are diamonds only after centuries of pressure. These hydrangea blooms are just as lovely at the end of their lives as they were at the beginning. Different, yes, but no less beautiful. Why can’t I make that transition to myself?

Yes, I look different than I did even 5 years ago. I look different on the outside, but I am different on the inside, too. Different. I accept I am still valuable. I accept that I am still interesting, I am still skillful, I am still funny and I am probably even smarter. I grant myself all that.

But it is the outside that trips me up; the wrinkles, the grey hair, the creaking knees. The most superficial gives me the biggest challenge.

The hydrangea has gone through the trauma of being transplanted twice in just a few months. So have I. The hydrangea’s blooms are going through the normal aging process that it did not ask for and it cannot stop. So am I.

I see the beauty in the hydrangea, but not in myself. I should work on that.

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