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Over The Moon Magazine: The Flower That Helped Me Die + Rise Again

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 In Blog, Published Article, Real Life
 {This article was originally published in the former Over The Moon Magazine}

It was March.  The air was crisp with winter’s memory and pockets of new life unfurled in shades of green and yellow along the trail.

But, I didn’t notice.

My solemn eyes were drawn to the ground beneath me, worn and dusty from previous travelers. I was there for the unobtrusive company of towering trees and for the lake that swallowed my salted grief without inquiry. I was there to climb and to run and to fall on my knees in defeat that dented the earth with clenched fists.

It was a hike to mourn the death of me.

I’d been denying my condition for years, sure that I was not unlike every other woman who was conscious of health and committed to fitness. At first, I was calorie counting, carbohydrate restricting, fat phobic and obsessed with exercise. At first, I was following meal plans and charting macronutrients and running half marathons around my neighborhood on the weekends. At first, I was sane.

Until I wasn’t.

Until my husband found me one morning sobbing into our bed sheets, screaming that I couldn’t do it anymore. This was after my hair started falling out and my periods disappeared. This was after depression set in and body dysmorphia made its debut. It was after I’d experienced my first binge – but before the several hundred that would follow. I cried surrender from my bed long before my digestive health deteriorated and before the night sweats and joint pain began. But, it was on that very day, the day I admitted defeat, that self-loathe arrived and tucked herself in tight beside me.

Years beyond that pivotal morning, with the venom of self-hate still coursing through my veins, I found myself treading the familiar path of a local nature park. I’m not sure what led me there or what I’d hoped to find on the winding route that circled an old iron ore mine. Still, there I was – fumbling over rocks, hurdling fallen branches and gulping the earthy air. With eyes fixed to my feet, I wondered at who I’d become and, remembering the woman I once was, mourned the death of her. I wept a eulogy to myself, to the vibrancy and unrelenting courage that I had once embodied. I said farewell to the me I used to know, the woman buried beneath the firmly settled dust of self-implosion.

“Now, lift up your eyes or you’ll miss the best part,” a voice broke through my anguish.  Ahead of me, shuffling down a sloping bend, was a man and his daughter.

“See those yellow flowers?” The hiker asked his tiny partner, pointing upward at the chain of yellow adorning the canopy above us. “They’re called Laburnum.”

Laburnum.

I knew that name. My mind raced to explain the recognition.

Then, with sudden familiarity, I heaved a sob and pulling myself onto a tree trunk beyond the trodden pathway.  All at once, I remembered the ancient tale, written by Madge Bigham, about the first seed that was ever planted:

There was a time when the earth was devoid of flowers. It was bare and brown and unbecoming.  But, hidden within a large storehouse were seeds sound asleep on the shelves.  A prince, The Prince of Love, found them there and petitioned them to grow. He expressed the needs of the world beyond the storehouse where birds, animals and humans waited to be cared for. They needed shelter and food. They craved color and art.

“Why lie idle here when the world is waiting for you?” The Prince asked.

“Because we are afraid,” was the seeds’ reply.

The seeds knew that in order to display their beauty and provide for those who hungered and thirsted, they would first need to endure death.  They’d first need to be buried in the cold, dark ground.  And though they longed to grow, the price of sleeping underground seemed far too high.

But The Prince continued his questioning, “Wouldn’t you rather sleep in the earth for a season and awaken new, fresh and glorious than sit here without ever recognizing you’re potential? Could you forget the fleeting death for the life that is to come from it?”

Later, after The Prince departed, one small seed made the decision to change herself into a living, growing plant that would brighten the outside world.  She thought that if she bravely showed the way, other seeds would soon follow after her. And so, later that day, the little seed journeyed beyond the storehouse walls and buried herself in the dirt.  The wind and rain met her there and as she sunk further underground she sang:

“I shall arise,

I shall arise,

Some day, somehow,

I know not now,

Only, I shall arise.”

For many days the seed slept in darkness until one morning when she opened her eyes and felt herself lifting above the ground. No longer was her life trapped within a hardened shell and covered by mud.  Now, she was new and beautiful – blossoming freely above the earth.  She was adorned with a yellow crown and as she marveled in her own splendor she called out to the other seeds the story of her own redemption.

Soon they followed her, blooming beauty all over the world.

That seed, the one who began it all – her name was Laburnum.

Strengthened, I lifted myself from the fallen tree and hurried back onto the trail. Wiping the stream of tears from my cheeks, I looked up and saw a sea of yellow floating high above me; and following Laburnum’s lead, I submitted to the burial I had endured. For the first time, I believed that this death of self was not in vain. I believed that there was life within it.

Walking on, with eyes lifted and my hopeful head held high, I sang:

“I shall arise,

I shall arise,

Some day, somehow,

I know not now,

Only, I shall arise.”

AND RISE I DID.

Comments
  • Shelly
    Reply

    Wow! What a beautiful story!

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