We were at a friend’s house yesterday walking around the yard. There was a magnificent magnolia tree with ‘spent’ buds. Here is a close up shot. At first I thought it looked a little alien, or like something from a horror film…and yet, the small red element reminded me that at one time it was full of life and a cherished symbol. Many southern homes use magnolia leaves to decorate. They use them in wreaths, garlands around doors and in floral arrangements. I had to remind myself that just because it was ‘spent’ the beauty was not gone. 

It takes a great deal of effort for trees and flowers to bloom, and gardeners often cut them back after the bloom to keep them blooming or to get bigger blooms next time. Nature has a way of recreating itself even when humans do not intervene. Too often we focus on the bloom and forget that the leaves or branches or spent pods also bring beauty to the garden. We look forward to Spring and forget that Fall engages our senses in an entirely different way. As we see nature prepare for Winter there is a magnificence in the changing light. Trees take on their natural colors, not the green of Spring and Summer. Leaves turn brown and fall to the ground, serving as a physical reminder that colder weather is on it’s way. Fall is our reminder that it is time to rest, hibernate and settle in for a long Winter’s nap. The party of Summer is over. 

We spend a lot of time getting things done, keeping things moving, doing what it takes to make our lives better…but what about when all the excitement and rush is over? Yes you’re tired. Yes your adrenalin is gone and you feel exhausted over all the effort that is accomplished. Yes you enjoyed the event or thing you did, but what now? Now that the wedding or party, event or accomplishment is over…can you see beauty in the spent? What do you appreciate about the aftermath in a new or different way? What joy do you have in the new stage of life after the excitement? Or are you simply depressed awaiting the next big thing. If we live our lives waiting for the big things, we will miss the small joys of daily life. If we learn anything from the seasons it is that there is beauty in the spent, if we are willing to see it. 

I encourage you to be willing to see the beauty in your world that is not a bloom, but the aftermath…the spent.