"Be of good cheer.
Do not think of today's failures, but of the success that may come tomorrow.
You have set yourselves a difficult task, but you will succeed if you persevere;
and you will find a joy in overcoming obstacles.
Remember, no effort that we make to attain something beautiful is ever lost."
On Thursday, I bought pink carnations.
As Millie and I passed the display of four dollar bouquets at the grocery store, I suddenly found myself reaching towards the rows of flowers. Normally, I would feel guilty spending money on something unnecessary, but on a Thursday morning before a snowstorm, they felt necessary. I pulled out two choices- creamy, white daisies with bright yellow centers, or the carnations, and Millie's heart was set on pink. She carried them carefully in her small hands. We found a blue Mason jar for the kitchen table, and a tiny vase for her room, and filled them both with the bright buds. I explained to Millie that it would take a few days for some of them to open. Then, I leaned back against the wall, feeling like I had accomplished something just by snipping the green stems and dipping them into the water.
I am trying to consciously, intentionally make an effort to be more focused on joy. Both giving it and receiving it. Creating it and resting in it. I want to make good things a priority. I want to celebrate beauty and minimize the negative.
Until recently, joy has always felt frivolous to me. I can't quite pinpoint why, to tell you the truth. But it's been a long winter. I've found myself wanting color, pining for good things. Green, growing things. Newness and life and hope, instead of snow covered and forgotten. I want to place more value on the condition of my heart and the well being of my spirit. I want to make the place I'm in a better one, for myself and for those who are a part of my life, even in small ways. It should matter. It does matter.
And I bought pink carnations.
And life was beautiful.
And this was supposed to be the end of the blog post. Neat and tidy, wrapped up and simple.
I looked at the flowers as if they were to blame, frustrated thoughts running through my mind. "I don't even know why I bother. Flowers are stupid. This day is stupid. And it's a good thing I'm only thinking this stuff, because Millie would grab a hold of the word 'stupid' and I'd never hear an end to it and that's the last thing I need right now." I was reduced to blaming flowers. Blaming everything.
Beauty doesn't happen overnight. The blossoms happened on my table as soon as I gathered them into that glass, but before that, they were grown. And it happened over time.
That is beauty. That is joy. A process. A quest. Carnations bloom slowly, and so do most good things. The time, in fact, is part of what makes it so beautiful. That it took a while. That it wasn't a snap of the fingers. That it required many things, and patience most of all.
Flowers are never necessary. Except maybe they are. Especially pink carnations. So I will take the joy they give, and the joy I will work to create, and slowly, daily, it will grow.