31 Days in which I Am Saved by Beauty – Day 29

I find myself being saved by beauty 
in interesting and various ways of late. 
On Thursday night, in answer to an invitation
from a friend, I hosted a table
at the fund-raising event for our local
Young Life organization.
I was never a part of Young Life as
a student and neither were any of my kids.
But I believe in the work they do,
and I especially believe in 
what our local leadership is doing.
This was the first time I had seen the 
new area director in action.
And let me tell you,
this woman is a ball o’ fire.
Her name is Tanita.
She is beautiful in every way I can think of,
exuding the love of Jesus with every breath.
The youth of this city are in very good hands, indeed.

Then on Friday evening, after a difficult phone 
conversation with my increasingly confused mama,
I took a walk.
Bent over in frustration and worry,
I cried out for patience,
and forgiveness,
and deep reservoirs of love.
And then I looked up.

And this is what I saw:
the mountains glowing pink,
reflecting the setting sun.
And the full moon rising,
shedding its quiet light over the landscape.

Sometimes a quiet light is what is needed.
Just enough illumination for the next step,
the next curve in the road, 
the next smooth space to put your foot. 
I’m not sure I want to look very far down
the road ahead for my mom.
I think it’s going to get increasingly rugged
and difficult and 
a little moonlight
will be just about right. 

As I rounded the driveway and headed away 
from the reflective hills and the rising moon,
I was struck by another view:
this strong, clear silhouette against the dying sky.

Three tall, straight Washington fan palms,
three shorter, sturdier date palms —
quintessential California sentries.
I love them. 

I have not always loved them.
Growing up, I thought they were strange,
sort of purposeless, actually.
Where was the shade?
Where were the finely shaped leaves? 

Somehow, I grew into them. 

I love the rustling sound they make
in the evening breeze. 

I love that birds of all varieties
make their home buried at the 
bottom of those massive fronds. 

These trees speak to me of my own history,
driving to my grandmother’s house,
across concrete roads with asphalt stripes,
clickety-clack, clickety-clack,
every street lined with one variety or another. 

They speak to me of warm, sunny days
and cool, soughing midnight stirring.
They speak to me of continuity,
of presence,
of stability. 

They are long-lived and impervious to drought.
They don’t burn easily, either. 
In fact, it’s really hard to get rid of them
once they’re in place.
We have an upstart next to our backyard shed,
and the fire department is suggesting
we eliminate it.
It breaks my heart,
even though it’s one of my
least favorite varieties. 

I think maybe I need these reminders of longevity
around me right now.
Life can seem fleeting when
you watch your parent slowly disintegrate,
when you see ones you love struggling with
debilitating, life-altering disease,
when you hear the years
creaking in your own bones as you move. 

So I say thank you for palm trees,
and night skies,
and full moons,
and family history.
I say thank you for young women,
picking up the slack,
carrying the torch,
loving Jesus and pouring love into others. 
I say thank you for beauty,
in the world around me,
in the people I meet,
even in my own faltering love for my ailing mom.
Because all of it. . .
every bit of it,
reflects a Beautiful God,
the One who stirs in me,
in all of us,
this longing for beauty —
anywhere and everywhere we can find it.
It is that longing that speaks to
the imago dei within.
It is that longing that leads us to Love.

Joining this reflection with Michelle, Jen, Ann, Laura and Laura – with deep gratitude for their faithful invitation to keep community growing.

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  1. Your words draw me in…the deepest longing of my heart spoken here…so sorry for the pain of walking along side a parent whose mind is becoming confused…I am watching so many friends having to find this hard place…grace and honor …but also frustration on how to help them…and deal with it all…blessings as you continue to find beauty and grace to walk through these days~

  2. Glenda Childers says

    I love the full circle here … young leaders standing on the shoulders of leaders with creaky bones.

  3. EXACTLY!! I am grateful everyday for these young women who follow after God with their whole hearts. Like your two beautiful girls.

  4. Kim Sullivan says

    Beautiful, Diana! Love your relationship with the palms! What great reminders they are all about you. I never much cared for them myself – they never seemed enough shade in sunny Florida when we gathered there. They did not spread and cover like Georgia’s seaside Great Oaks. But, as I age, I better experience the wonder of who they are, what they endure, how little can fell them. Praying for you and your mother today.

  5. Yeah, that’s how I felt about them until about the time we bought this house – and it had both a huge live oak, spreading its glory over half the yard AND a very old date palm, with the big top and the thick trunk. And I realized I loved them both – as just sort of endemic to my life as a native Californian. Thanks for stopping by – always so glad to see you.

  6. Thank you!! 🙂

  7. You’re welcome. :>)

  8. This is so beautiful, Diana. Love, hugs and prayers, Patricia

  9. We’re going to a Young Life banquet tonight!

    I love these lines–“a little moonlight / will be just about right.” I know this road is hard.

  10. Thank you, Patricia. Right back to you.

  11. I know you know it, with a different-yet-same process. Today, her wallet went missing. We have a wonderful young woman who has come in two days a week since my brother died 2 years ago to help her with bill-paying (now almost non-existent since my other brother in northern CA handles her day-to-day expenses and my husband oversees her dwindling investments.) So she spent her entire time with Mom today trying to track down the missing wallet (which she insists come with her when she goes to exercise class and meals despite our begging her to just leave it locked in her cute little apartment) and then cancel credit cards, etc. Still not done with that. Oy vey. I really, really hate this part. I hate seeing her so confused and defensive and sad.

  12. My dear friend Glenda shared your blog with me a while back. She was right, I love the things you have to say. Thank you for sharing. We walked a similar road with my mom. Yesterday was actually the third anniversary of her passing. Standing with you in prayer.

  13. Thank you, Anne, for your kind words and your prayers. This is so hard – and I am 135 miles away with a fairly full life. I talk to her on the phone daily and visit every 2-3 weeks. She is increasingly anxious and depressed in addition to being very confused most of the time. And Glenda is a dear – love her blog and her sweet comments everywhere. Glad to meet you here.

  14. I thought I had responded to you, Ro – but don’t find it! Thank you for stopping by and leaving such kind words. And I appreciate your prayers in this long, hard part of the journey with my mom and also with my mom-in-law. They are such dear, great women – and it’s hard to see them slowly disappear.

  15. Linda Chontos says

    You see with such beautiful eyes Diana. I’m feeling the same way these days. I don’t want to rush ahead into a future that looks so uncertain for my aging parents and others in our close circle. I want to do just what you’ve been doing – embrace the beauty of this moment – this one day.

    I’ve loved this series. We’ve almost made it to the end!!

  16. Thank you, Linda – and yes, we’re almost there!!! Hooray.

  17. You have no idea how this is speaking to me tonight, my friend. The message I delivered yesterday was entitled “Look Up” . When I read those words here the biggest lump came into my throat. And your tender heart laid bare here just ministers with beauty. Thank you.

  18. Thank you so much, Laura, for telling me that. I’ve been thinking about you and that small church. Is that where you were yesterday? If you’ll let me know when you’re there, I’ll pray for you that morning – and the night before, too. We all need to look up. And we all need just a little bit of light to see ahead a tiny bit. Hope you’re finding it, dear friend.

  19. Sighing here…aching with the beauty and the sadness. My dad told me the other day that he’s losing weight.

  20. Yeah. It happens. And it’s getting to be more sad than beautiful a lot of days. Still look for those spots that shine, though – only way through it somehow.