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magnolia, memory,  &  mending

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I blow a pink kiss to the slow-standing sun as I feel the breeze stepping through a crack in my window.  The air carries a fragrance as gentle as the rain, and I feel a delicate hand extending toward me as if to say: “shall we dance?”

And, suddenly, I am spun into the memory of my senses – it is a smell that tastes like laughter; it tickles like green grass on the skin; it sounds like a lazy, shallow stream; or, windswept sheets on the laundry line; or, a song that awakens the sleeping memory of a dream…

My grandfather loved magnolia trees.

The month of May always reminds me of the magic that lives within the secret promise of a budding tree. My grandparents had a magnolia in the front yard of their house, and I remember holding the fuzzy mittens on the hands of that tree, as a child, and wondering what kind of sleeping beauty rested in there. Each time we would visit, the magnolia would change shapes. Some days the buds had barely broken, and it looked as if she was sticking her tongue out at me! Some days she had burst into a cluster of pink blossoms with lazy arms stretched in the sun! Other times she was scattered on the grass leaving an inebriating scent at her feet. And in this smell of springtime, it is as if I am still a child standing under my grandfather’s magnolia and feeling the soft kiss of each petal that falls on my cheek. It is a fleeting comfort that finds me every time I walk by a magnolia tree, in the month of May.

This spring has been unlike any other in my lifetime. As we all take responsible measures to “Stay Home” and “Self-Isolate”, I am noticing the magnificence of this season like never before! Snowdrops, periwinkle, daffodils, and tulips beaming with delight! Apple blossoms, cherry blossoms, and sweet magnolia filling the air with a dizzying sweetness. And, as I walk through the neighbourhood, I notice that the streets have quieted some. The deafening sound of exhaust and rush hour has been replaced by a morning chorus of birdsong, and I wonder: has this absence of traffic given space for the air to carry the joyful fragrance of the blossoming trees?

My roommate, Anita, is a talented textile artist. She offers each thread a concentrated love and attention. In these recent months, I have quieted the busy streets of my mind by taking up my Grannie’s old embroidery needles and mending all the holes in my favourite jeans. As my hands stitch new strength into the memory of these garments, I am reminded how so much of life is connected by threads: threads of ancestry; threads of memory; threads of life that are woven in the roots of that magnolia beneathe my feet. Even this web – this world-wide web – is a multitude of threads that have connected billions of hearts across an unimaginable distance, and the raw power of that connection brings to mind the wisdom of Sonya Renee Taylor when she said:

“We will not go back to normal. Normal never was. Our pre-corona existence was never normal other than we normalized greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate and lack. We should not long to return, My friends. We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that fits all of humanity and nature.”

During these moments of remembering Life, these are the words that rest in the fuzzy bud of my Heart. Perhaps there is a mitten stitched for the hands of the whole world? One size fits all? It may seem like an overwhelming endeavour to imagine a garment that “fits all of humanity and nature”, but, each time we stop to witness the Divine patchwork of these spring flowers, we remember how to mend our Hearts for the world we belong to. It may take billions of hands to redesign this world – experienced hands, humble hands, shakey hands, and hard hands – but, can you imagine the potential beauty of a world so tenderly woven?