On June 10th the lupine theater played for a full house. They perfumed, awed, and colored the landscape extraordinarily. We onlookers gushed at their purple, pink and white symphony and deeply inhaled their essence. Their lupine-ness shined superb; never were the nature theater-goers more charmed. We silently applauded their beauty.
By July 3rd the producer shuttered the doors and declared the lupine show ended for the year. But did the lupine show really end? Or was it just beginning?
Every plant, animal, rock, human and solar system unfolds. Each reaches its zenith to produce ethereal petals, baby fawns, red sandstone, innocent newborns and dazzling suns.
And then what happens? The energy shifts. Flower petals die while seed pods nourish. The frolicking baby fawn running in large overlapping circles matures to a doe twitching her ears, alert for danger. The surf pounds stone to white sand. Babies grow up to teenage rebellion, body piercings, peer approval, report cards and beer on the beach. Solar systems? From their magnificent explosion outward they implode back into space.
As I walked down the road this morning, I witnessed plants in so many stages. Some shimmered in their peak hour, gorgeous with revealing beauty. Others shriveled on the surface as energy pumped toward hidden seeds.
I thought how indigenous people utilized different parts of a plant for alternative purposes. The flower petal might ease arthritis. Seeds provided nourishment and energy. Brewed stems and dried leaves aided the liver. The root, pounded and dried and ground, healed depression.
A plant was not harvested willy-nilly in early July to use that root, just because your friend suffered. No. A wise medicine person waited and listened to the plant, determining when the energy suffused the root. Only then did one pray for guidance and gift tobacco before pulling the plant-being from her soil.
One needed to think ahead to next winter and spring, when Grandmother lay dying. What root or flower or leaf might assist her? What would the people need? And the medicine woman would look at the earth to see what plants bloomed profusely and nod and say, yes, thank you, and listen closely to the plant’s teachings.
As I walked, I thought also of we humans and the differences in our unfolding. Are we always the same being, filled with the same energy? I think not. My father at 81 seemed a completely different man than those days at age 65 in Florida when he grinned at the jets overhead and said, “Another bird coming into Paradise…” That man was totally different in stature and focus from the 44 year-old aimed at expanding his pharmacy stores. And at age 32? How can we even compare the 32 year-old and the grandfather who adored the antics of squirrels?
I look back at my life and think the same. Who was that young mother in the woods, watching children build tree forts? Who in the world was that young married woman bagging sticky raisins in the food co-op? Who sat in native sweat lodges praying so fiercely? Who in the world was that blogger in 2012 who enjoyed telling personal stories so much? Where did all these beings go?
Turn, turn, turn and the world keeps turning, never to return to exactly the same place.
Many spiritual teachers say all is change, all is impermanence.
The youth may look like a flower, all beauty and shining and energy. The adult may look like a root, hardening, shriveling, turning deeper in the earth. And the grandmother? She’s approaching Spirit, lightening up, preparing to fly beyond the known.
Each of us, in our different stages, shares different medicines–different gifts–to ourselves and others. The flimsy temporary beauty of flowering gives way to earth which yields to essence. Each needed in its own way.
As I walked back up the road, I thought of my friends and the way the mind tends to think of them as certain unchanging beings with certain characteristics. What if my friend is truly an unknown mystery, changing and morphing and shifting as time passes? If we fully realize that this is true, might we sit in awe and interest to see who she is today? Not who our mind defines her from yesterday.
Every encounter would feel brand-new, like a beginning. Who is this lupine without flowers, all growing and bursting seed pods? Who is this moon, this shape-shifter, today? Who is my mom in her mystery? Who am I all brand new?
And who, I wonder, are you? What medicine do you offer the lupines, the cashier at Walmart, your grandchildren, your very own self?