Sunday, February 14, 2010

Wedding 3: magnolias

Yesterday I spent a little time walking through the SF Botanical Garden and the Conservatory of Flowers. I sat under a magnolia tree - all sharp edges and sticks, no leaves, and a ton of buds as big as my fist, and big white and pink flowers, the size of my open hand. It felt embarrassing, obscene, ridiculous. It felt unnecessary, that these big, pretty flowers would be blooming on a tree with no leaves. It seemed impractical.
And then I realized that beauty is practical. Without knowing a ton about botanical science, I know that the flowers are a means of survival for the trees. Not that there is only one definition of beauty, but that it is profoundly important to have beauty, joy, and love. I wondered if I was deluding myself, or being silly, trying to scratch out a life lesson from a magnolia tree.
The truth is, I am being silly and ridiculous and deluded. I could also say that the tree was bred to be like that, that in nature the tree wouldn't have so many crazy blooms, and that the flowers drained energy from the tree, and that the water used to keep it alive might be better used to improve life somewhere that they're suffering a drought. I could say that it's just a tree, and not a religious lesson or a philosophical treatise.
But that's also deluded and silly. So I get my choice of what to be deluded about. I get to choose the connections I see between things in the world. That's one of the miracles of consciousness - I get to make connections out of the chaos of life. Maybe I'm wrong sometimes, but I get that choice, and I get to create the measuring stick to decide when I'm right or wrong. I get to say, for example, that I'm right when the produce of the connections is joy, love, and healing. I get to say that the magnolia tree teaches me something deep about the importance of joy and beauty and God.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That magnolia tree is just another one of Gods creations for us to enjoy. I love them too.