As the sun set on my Monday evening, the 72-degree weather made this February day feel more like the beginning of springtime. The blush-colored blossoms on our Japanese Plum trees sweeten the air and the grass on our hillside is a lush, green jungle for our puppy to explore in adorable leaps and bounds. It’s funny how the atmosphere of a season brings back memories almost lost to me, but this spring-like sunset pulled me back twenty years in time to my dad’s house in an older neighborhood near my high school. He, too, had Japanese Plum trees lining the walkway in front of his house. Each spring, the pinkish-white blossoms erupted in delicate bouquets from the barren limbs of the trees. As the season wore on, the petals of each flower fell and carpeted the walk, giving way to syrupy-sweet plums the size of cherries. We rarely ate the plums – instead, they fell to the ground, replacing the silky carpet of blossoms with a variegated pattern of juice stains.
No matter how many little sticky landmines I had to navigate to avoid ruining my tennis shoes, I looked forward to the annual flowering of the plum trees. There is something about the sweet aroma of spring blossoms carried on the balmy breeze of the afternoon and seeing the sun glint through the newest young leaves on the tree – the pale blue of the sky turning stunning shades of orange, pink, and lavender – that comforts my soul. It seems to reassure me that, though there is pain, though there is heartache, though there is an indescribable longing in our souls, all will be made right in the world…eventually.
Those springtime walks as a young teen in front of my dad’s house whispered innocence and unencumbered joy. Beneath those boughs, I giggled and gossipped with my closest friends. On walks home along that sticky, blossom-blanketed sidewalk, my younger brother and I developed the cherished friendship we have to this day.
As I matured, though, I began to forget about those springtime afternoons and the light gleaming through the blossoms of the trees. I got lost in dealing with relationships and college studies until the day that God decided I needed a reminder of His joy. As I made my way onto my college campus one April afternoon, weighed down with books and a lengthy to-do list, I paused to look up and adjust my burden. At that moment, the afternoon sun poured through the jade leaves of the towering maple trees lining the walkway. Light played off of the branches and glinted as though winking at me. Somehow, deep down to my very core, I knew HIS presence. Nothing about my circumstances had changed. I simply paused to look up. The same Light that enveloped me at fifteen was with me at twenty. In that instant, I knew God was real. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, unquestionably, His mercies and love existed for me. The knowing didn’t come with an earthquake or a clatter of lightning – it came in the whisper of light through the new growth on a tree.
Now, as my little boys are growing so fast and changing daily into young men, I still glance up at the trees. I need reminders that God’s love is constant. His beauty and grace are new every day, and His light shines on me even now. So I pause in my daily routines, I breathe the perfumed air, and I watch the sun filter through the blossoms on the trees along our driveway. I thank my God for the reminders that come with the blossoming of a tree in springtime.