The Back Side of Summer (and suffering)

As August approaches full bloom, some surprises surface. Just outside our windows, some intrepid morning glories we DID NOT PLANT are all about decorating an old trellis after the clematis has died out for the year. I took the photo from the inside, through the screen, but these beauties are still gorgeous.

Not far away, this upstart sunflower lifts its head to its source. Thank you birds, for planting this one, and Granddaughter Cora for snapping this shot. We’ve noticed how every morning, the blossom turns eastward to greet the morning sun, and by afternoon, has revolved to the other side of our world.

I’ve been thinking a lot about pain lately–so many types to consider. My Texas friends post photos of deep crevasses in their soil because of the horrible drought. Such a heart-rending form of loss. A few weeks ago, a long-time friend of mine passed from this life after a seemingly endlesss battle with cancer.

Another friend faces surgery for breast cancer in two weeks, and another, only 38 years old with an infant and a young child, has entered the same struggle. You all have many other names to add to this list–suffering lurks everywhere around us.

Of course, we’ve all heard how it makes us better people in the long run. Some of us have memorized these promises, claimed them . . . but when sorrow or pain or terrible loss hits us, we may forget their consolation for a time.

To quote R. W. Emerson: Every moment instructs, and every object; for wisdom is infused into every form. It has been poured into us as blood; it convulsed us as pain; it slid into us as pleasure; it enveloped us in dull, melancholy days, or in days of cheerful labor; we did not guess its essence until after long time.

“We did not guess its essence until after long time.” Wisdom coming to us in pain? Sure doesn’t feel like it!

Every single moment instructs us–looking back over some of the worst situations of my life, I know this is true. One recent outstanding circumstance comes to mind–the April night before surgery for my broken femur. Confined to bed, watched over by caring nurses, I “got used to” my new state. And right in the middle of my conjectures, someone’s comment reminded me of all the good that had come my way during the past year.

A sense enveloped me that, based on these past experiences, all would be well this time, too. If my Creator could resolve those long-term struggles, surely this one lay within the reach of grace.

How many times have I traveled this route with one of my characters? A reader wrote me yesterday, asking if I had planned from the beginning for a horrendous loss to strike one of them. No, I hadn’t. As the story progressed, like real life, an almost unbearable grief entered his life–and he grew through the experience.

Just like we do.

Here’s the front side of the morning glories. Some years I’ve tried to transplant them, but they really do much better totally on their own. From the back, the glow of early morning sunshine makes this scene just as pretty. A new perspective…sunshine where we might not have expected it. Beauty poking into our kitchen.

Recently I read this on a FaceBook post, with no author mentioned:

Never regret a day in your life: good days give happiness, bad days give experience, worst days give lessons, and best days give memories.

When pain besets us, this becomes our challenge. Life is hard–yes, that’s true. But life also offers us so much that’s good, both on the front side and the back.

10 thoughts on “The Back Side of Summer (and suffering)

  1. YES! That is happening, and I’m so grateful! Wouldn’t it be interesting to write a novel about how prayer works? Like a time-slip showing how the way things work out in another era go back to roots of faith?

  2. I so enjoy it when God reveals His heart through yours Ms. Gail. It is in our trials that we discover how strong or weak our faith is. Your words remind me that God tests, satan tempts; and it is in that testing that God teaches, grooms, and grows us ma’am. God’s blessings, and continued prayers for your full and fast healing.

  3. Well, that’s what we’re still here on earth for, right? To have the LIGHT shine thru us. Sounds like you got a little moisture yesterday? Hope you get WAY more than a drop in the bucket, and soon.

  4. Okay, Gail, your assignment, if you wish to accept it (remember that old TV show?) is to write the novel on how prayer works!

    On the lighter side: I grew up on a farm, but Mom didn’t allow her three girls to work in the garden–she had five sons. Fast forward to my marriage. One of Jim’s co-workers offered us a small part of his farm to grow veggies. On one day not to be forgotten, I weeded green beans while Jim did other weeding. When he finished, he came to my side and promptly collapsed on the ground laughing. I had a pile of wilting bean plants and a lovely row of healthy morning glories! When I reach heaven, my first question to God will be why he made the leaves of those two plants so much alike!

  5. Love this story! I guess when I was three, I did pretty much the same w/a row of beets Mom set me beside. (: Live and learn, eh?

  6. Loved the post, Gail, and the garden pics. Hope you’re doing better. I was ready to get back in my weed-filled garden and I think I broke another toe yesterday when I hit my foot while taking off my shoes. Lesson learned: sit in your chair to remove shoes. Don’t stand next to anything and slip the shoes off! Man, I hate these broken bone lessons! But I have to praise because so far there’s no pain, just a bruise. You are so right about those life lessons!

  7. Oh, I’m SO sorry, Catherine! Broken bone city. Glad it doesn’t hurt…do NOT trip on anything, girl! And one great side-effect of all this is getting to know you better–I’m really thankful for that! Also very grateful that even though the time has been looong, healing DOES come. Thankful, thankful, thankful here.

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