Photographs by Laurie @ Horizons Photography

June 22, 2018

The lilac


I have never been a gardener; I enjoy them but to me, they always just seem to be another room that needs maintenance.  I have lived in a few homes now that had beautiful gardens and I have always managed to keep them clean and maintained but to say I found any joy in it would be lying to you. The one thing that I have always loved though are flowering trees. When Josh was born we planted a cherry tree so that every spring we could enjoy the cherry blossoms; we moved before I ever saw one but that doesn't matter because each spring we drive by and I take pride in the fact that I left something beautiful behind. When Kaleb was born I planted a lilac and again we moved before I really saw any real blooms. The last mothers day before we left that house I was given a magnolia and I planted it in the front so that we could drive by and see it as it grew and bloomed. The house we are in now had a beautiful garden when we moved in, a huge butterfly bush full of beautiful dark purple blossoms added so much colour and beauty until it died during the ice storm a few years back. We had a lilac here too that survived and seemed to thrive. Every year I enjoy both the look and the smell of the lilacs on the breeze and I have to admit to a bit of sadness each year when I look outside and see the ground covered in a purple carpet of fallen petals. 

A few years ago I found an old blue dresser that someone was throwing out, I picked it up and it was stored at my cottage waiting for me to have space in the car for me to bring it home, this spring it finally made it's way to Toronto with Tim and Kaper and as I pulled out the drawers and started looking it over I quickly realized that it was not going to be suitable for an indoor dresser. However, I hated to throw it out so I decided to use it as a garden piece. It was blue so I didn't need to paint it. I bought soil and some plants and lined the drawers with plastic and added some holes for drainage and made it into a leveled planter. When I stood back and looked at my work I realized that the sides of the drawers hadn't been painted the blue colour and were actually not overly attractive so I pulled out some paint and added some dragonflies and flowers to it. On the top of the dresser, I put some pots with flowers and one used one of Kaper's old rain boots to make a cute little pot for the last of the flowers I had. The entire thing only took an afternoon but spending a beautiful day in the backyard making something look both cute and whimsical made me feel really good. I felt that I had accomplished something that wouldn't be destroyed or messed up the next time the guys came home from school. So began a discovery of the joy of creating a garden. I began to look at my backyard differently, I worked, I created, I painted, I beaded, I planted, I watered, I enjoyed myself and found peace while I was doing it. 

As I began to take more interest in the garden I also started learning how to care for the plants I have for so long basically ignored. One of those things was my lilac. One day I was up on the roof of my shed trying to trim back the apple tree and the lilac tree when I realized that the apple tree was actually killing the lilacs; it was just too crowded. I took out the apple tree since it never bore fruit and I focused on the lilacs. Now, most people who read this will know that a lilac is a bush; I knew it... but mine had become a lilac tree. I was so tall, you could barely see the blooms. It took a friend looking at it to point out that I needed to prune it harshly in order to get it back to being a bush, to push the green down and allow the blooms to really flourish. Yesterday I took the tree trimmer and I went after the lilacs. As I worked and cut I felt like I was killing it, All the branches were falling at my feet and my heart was so sad as it got more and more bare. Now, sitting below the lilac is a fairy home, in the lower branches hang fairy lights and beaded suncatchers, glass bottles with lights also hang from the lower branches in an attempt to add magic to the garden even after the sun goes down. It is a pretty spot. When I stood back after my extreme pruning I saw all the bare spots and sat on the deck contemplating it with both sadness and hope. Then I had an epiphany.

It is an age-old analogy, but pruning a tree to give it more health and beauty is necessary. Pruning humans will have the same results. My lilacs were really pretty, I enjoyed them, they bloomed each year, but they were not what they started out to be. They were meant to be a bush, they started as a bush but time and neglect had turned them into a tree and it was getting so tall that the beauty was becoming more and more difficult to see each year. It took someone reminding me that it was actually a bush for me to finally realize I needed to do something about it. 

Last November when I sat in my doctors' office and answered the questions she asked me it was like someone pointed out that I was not a tree, I was actually meant to be a bush and my beauty was becoming more and more difficult to see because I wasn't who I was supposed to be. The pruning process is hard, it hurts, it's left me bare, I may be hanging a few pretty lights and beads on it to look okay but the reality is that it's an ugly process. Some of the questions made me remember who I was, the person I was before all the years of struggling to keep my head above water, and I was shocked that I had forgotten that woman, that she had become so distant that I could barely remember being her at all. I have neglected her to focus on more pressing matters but it's springtime and now I need to prune her, or God does at least. 

As I sat on my deck looking at my poor bare lilac I began to have hope, because the promise is that all that pruning will bring even more green branches and blooms next year, and the beauty will be more visible, and even more the year following that. It was killing a tree to bring back a bush. 

As I sift through the last 11 years I realize that I have a lot of pruning to do, cutting out the internal voice that has been lying to me, the fears, and the anger that has gone so deep into my roots that it spreads into all areas of my life and just leaves a deep sadness that needs to be sorted through and cut out, and that will take work, sweat and tears, it will leave me bare for a time, it will feel ugly for a bit but with time my true self will begin to show herself again. I will once again bloom and be visible and known for what I was actually intended to be.