It has become a sort of rallying cry: “Flowers are everywhere!”
“There’s a dandelion growing in the sidewalk!”
“There’s a purple tulip!”
“There’s a white and orange one!”
Suddenly my son William is obsessed with flowers, pointing out every one he knows, and given that he’s grown up in a flower shop, he’s fairly adept for a four year old. And to chagrin of both his mom and dad the dandelions seem to delight him most. He can’t get enough of them, how they just grow everywhere.
He is, of course, missing his friends and family as we shelter at home. But he’s adaptable. He loves nature walks, talking about the birds and buds and special rocks and shells he’s seen. He takes his little toy binoculars. Sure, he whines and complains and cries and throws tantrums too. But so do I at this point.
It is, overall, an utterly terrible time, without any redeeming qualities. I find my mood matches the stock market, up one moment, crashing the next. Working, praying, meditating, running, none of the old tricks are quite enough to pierce the grim uncertainty and existential gloom.
But our little boy florist is teaching me, as he often does.
“I’m gonna focus on the good stuff,” he said today. I don’t know where he came from, but he’s right.
I can, for a limited time, choose to focus my attention on something good. I can enjoy the birdsong and the blooms. I can rejoice in holding my little boy George as he falls asleep. I can reach out to people I’ve lost touch with. I can choose to encourage and support my family and friends as we ride this awful rollercoaster together. I can write and be creative.
Often I lose sight of this choice. I just sort of flounder in the face of it all.
But the house smells of fresh baked bread. I have a fridge full of beer, and for the time being, the ability to buy food, pay the mortgage, and keep the power on. I can work from the safety of my home, depending on the goodness, self-sacrifice, and humbling heroism of healthcare workers, grocery store clerks, delivery people, and all the unnamed essential people who keep society running. I can, if the babies fall asleep, light my devotional candle and pray the Divine Office in the quiet of the sunset. And most challenging of all, I can hope in things unseen.
Pope Francis said today of hope: “Feeling hopeful does not mean to be optimistically naïve and ignore the tragedy humanity is facing. Hope is the virtue of a heart that doesn’t lock itself into darkness, that doesn’t dwell on the past, does not simply get by in the present, but is able to see a tomorrow. Hope is the door that opens onto the future. Hope is a humble, hidden seed of life that, with time, will develop into a large tree. It is like some invisible yeast that allows the whole dough to grow, that brings flavor to all aspects of life. And it can do so much, because a tiny flicker of light that feeds on hope is enough to shatter the shield of darkness. A single individual is enough for hope to exist, and that individual can be you. And then there will be another “you,” and another “you,” and it turns into an “us.” And so, does hope begin when we have an “us?” No. Hope began with one “you.” When there is an “us,” there begins a revolution.”
Tomorrow, little William Francis will wake early. He’ll watch cartoons. He’ll marvel that his dad is home from work yet again. He’ll play games, and go exploring. He’ll cry and get upset when he doesn’t get his way. And through it all, he’ll point out all the flowers he sees.
They’re everywhere, you know.
“Hope is the door that opens onto the future. Hope is a humble, hidden seed of life that, with time, will develop into a large tree… A single individual is enough for hope to exist, and that individual can be you. And then there will be another “you,” and another “you,” and it turns into an “us.” And so, does hope begin when we have an “us?” No. Hope began with one “you.”Pope Francis, Message for March 27, 2020