Hydrangeas and lemons

“The span between life as we intend it and life as we receive it is vast.  Our true purpose is worked out in that gap.”                                                           Mark Buchanan, The Rest of God 

Hydrangeas fit for a bride

Last June the hydrangeas were in bloom for Julie and Chris’ wedding reception here at Maywood.  Julie wanted a hydrangea theme for their wedding because she associated blooming hydrangeas with home.  Now the blooms remind her of her wedding day.  Or at least the best parts of her wedding day.  It only rained a short while during the outdoor reception, but it was enough to cause a torrent of bridal tears.

When people say “Rain on your wedding day brings good luck!”  they’re just trying to calm down fretful brides.  If people said, “Get used to it.  This is a metaphor for life,” they’d have wedding cake shoved up their noses.  Anyway, a year later, a bouquet of hydrangea happily commemorates the completion of their first event-filled year together.

This weekend John and I fêted the 30th wedding anniversary of friends of ours.  The guests at this surprise party included couples we have known since our own dating days thirty-plus years ago.  Many of us were married around the same time and the pastor who married us made a surprise visit, to the delight of us all.  Between dinner and dessert, the anniversary couple renewed their wedding vows.  Pulling out the vows was simple enough.  The vows, beautifully rendered in calligraphy, have been displayed in their home for three decades.  Getting through them was another matter.  As the groom blubbered his way through his vows (his bride remaining as cool as she did the first time she read them), guests noted how profound vows become after one has walked life’s road a stretch.  When this couple promised anew to support one another, we knew from the weight of experience how much they have genuinely walked the talk.

I have been reading this summer The Rest of God by Mark Buchanan.  It is about Sabbath rest.  Since summer is sabbatical in nature for teachers, it is a good time for me to be reading it.  The quote above is just one line of his that I can not get out of my head.  Married or not, life always turns out differently than we intend it.  We laugh at others who are sideswiped by the unexpected, but when it happens to us it is so infuriating!  As I write, I think of so many people I know who are–right now–dealing with unintended circumstances.  And the more I think, the more people bubble to the surface of my thoughts.  Wow, it’s pretty much everyone I know.

It’s not really a question of whether life will hand you lemons; it’s more a question of how you want to flavor your lemonade.  And sometimes where you drink it.   Hmm, I have few lemons waiting to be dealt with.  I’ll get to them just as soon as I cut myself a bouquet of hydrangea.   And next week, I plan to drink my lemonade on the beach.  Sweet!

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