Reflections: Making a bouquet of life

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Once again, I was traveling, this time going up and down the Cumberland Mountains. I noticed still other views that God had created. Unlike what I had recently seen in Iowa and Wisconsin, I was now awed by the beautiful bouquet of colors in the fall trees by the roadside. I pondered the wonder, magnitude and splendor of it all and dissected the mystery of it.

"Life is good," I thought, "if one notices and appreciates what's so obvious."

As I looked at the stately trees they resembled a magnificent fall bouquet of flowers. While my husband and I motored along the sturdy roads cut into the rocks, I noticed each part of that assortment of nature looked different when it stood alone. There were spaces between the dried foliage of the trees. They weren't quite as striking standing by themselves and couldn't contribute as much. It was when they were all joined together that they made an impression, each contributing its own quality, none claiming glory for itself.

"People are like that," I thought. "Better when they stand side by side." I loved the opportunity to look at that landscape.

As we continued on our trip to visit relatives I found material there, too, that I could insert into my bouquet. We shared in the drama of the family dog's second chance at life.

Bianca almost had to be euthanized because of an illness, but instead she rallied just in time to be saved. There were children's soccer games, piano lessons, unfamiliar schools and a different church to attend with an assortment of new people. All contributed to the beauty of living.

Home life at our relatives' house had a different flavor, too.

It was a military one. It seemed more structured and planned. I carefully placed those stems of life with their intimate moments into my bouquet. They, too, presented interesting hues. My assortment kept growing and becoming more beautiful. It was almost a masterpiece.

"Everyday experiences are the best of all," I surmised. I liked being able to walk outside in the warm Georgia weather where we visited. The boats carefully arranged in the boathouses along the marsh added variety. They were being retired for the upcoming season. Another page was being turned there for a while.

The last significant occurrence was when we watched one of our family members, a youngster, serve as an altar boy at a nearby church.

The event added still another dimension to my collection. I gently tucked it among my other cuttings. I thanked God that I was able to be a part of my family's existence.

Although interacting and traveling requires work and energy, if you open your eyes and focus on the positive aspects before you, everything can be an adventure.

St. Paul's words in Philippians 4:8 -- "Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely and of good report, if there is any virtue and anything praiseworthy -- meditate on these things" -- are life-changing words. It's our choice to focus on what's noble, pure and lovely or on the rain appearing on a sunny day.

This Thanksgiving Day is the perfect time for everyone to at least begin gathering for their bouquet of life.

Ellen Shuck holds degrees in psychology, religious education and spiritual direction and provides spiritual direction to people at her office.

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