Golden Celebration — the name of the old-fashioned yellow rose bush planted in our backyard that I forgot to prune (again). Its long branches rise briefly, then curve gracefully and asymmetrically back to earth. At the end of an arching branch the first full blown rose of the season gleams against the ground. A meltingly delicate, ruffled, buttery soft and sun-kissed creation, brimming with a deliciously haunting fragrance. I hold it between my hands and it does something to my heart that I can’t quite explain. When I look at certain flowers I have the feeling that if all I did for the rest of my life was to look at flowers, my life would be well spent.
It is possible to be ferreted out by a flower. Possible to be roused by powerful fragility from the somnambulist ramble loosely called life. When I look at certain flowers, truly look at them, action loses its importance. Importance loses its importance, and words feel like so many small aliens traveling between us.
When I look at certain flowers, and register their crushability combined with their candor, their utter lack of reserve, a helplessness takes hold of me. I am shaken by a force so honest, so gentle, it is mildly devastating. And I find myself at a loss. It is not just that I do not know how to respond. I do not even know what language to respond in. Everything I can say or do seems burlesque. A crude approximation of what is called for.
What is called for is utter transparency. But in my heart are many darkened rooms. So much within me is still opaque. When I look at certain flowers I am freshly bewildered by things I thought I understood. Like shape and color, scent, and form, touch and texture. When I look at certain flowers I become aware of clutching scrappy labels. Labels that shoot like so many drunken arrows only to fall and sprawl on the grass missing that which they were meant to pin down. The experience of the flower. Orange poppy, yellow yarrow, crimson clover, red camellia, purple salvia, white jasmine. Looking at the flowers I recite their beautiful names. The syllables sound strangely wooden. And suddenly I too know the desperation of the lily pad floating in an emerald pond. Yearning to feel the pearly drops that rest on her waterproof skin. When I look at certain flowers I become aware of the flowerproof surface of clever mind.
Then I long to let knowing drop from me like autumn leaves. I long to stand as bare in my soul as the flowers stand in theirs. I want to be excavated from the tomb of my thinking, that I too might brim with the sisterhood of sunlight and air.
At Spring’s conference I do not wish to be that person at the door who hands out rectangular name tags along with water bottles and forgettable folders. I want to be the starstruck scullery maid, who stands gaping behind the curtain. I want to be that dangerously impressionable, self-forgetful and dazzled. I want these moments to assume their proper mythical dimensions. So that I will never stop telling the story of these incoherent encounters. And when people start to wonder if I am in my right mind, that is when I will truly know. That I am.