In the last few weeks, I have been to one wedding, two baptisms and three funerals. A number of new babies have arrived – including my niece Sienna, and my mother-in-law has had back surgery and it looks like she might never return home and will have to live the remainder of her days in a nursing home. During most of these events the jacaranda has decorated my garden, my suburb – indeed the whole of Sydney has shimmered in its beauty.
It is an evocative tree and demands an emotional response – you can not ignore it. What memories do you have each November when the jacaranda bursts forth?
What do I remember? – the sudden death of my father after a short illness – one November – I remember frequent drives to the hospital on roads lined with their purple bloom – it was an intense time. I remember my school years where an old jacaranda tree flowered without fail during our exams and made me long for the summer months of warmth and no study. We live near Sydney Uni which is filled with jacaranda trees- again many associate them with angst, study and exams. My mother remembers the birth of my sister – it was during her first November in Australia and she had never seen this tree. The students at Moore College have just finished their exams and are beginning to celebrate.
Every year, we get this display of beauty and then it is over, finished – kaput until the next year. Without fail, the jacaranda flowers, followed by a torrential downpour of rain or gusty blowy wind or both and down come the jacaranda flowers to create a magic purple carpet. It lasts a few days before it turns to brown slimy mush. Gradually their beauty and majesty fade and we are left with our memories and musings.
What sense do we make of life when things go pear shaped? How do we pray to God and settle a rattled soul? It is the unexpected circumstances that can shake us, our heart beat races and we are filled with adrenalin wondering how we will cope. I look at the jacaranda trees and take a deep breath. Yes, they are beautiful, spectacular and wondrous to gaze upon, but they will go and leave a brown sodden mess.
I have been reading Psalm 27 for a while now and the Psalmist David longs to dwell in the house of the Lord and gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and seek him in his temple. Forget the jacaranda, much as I love it, but the beauty of the Lord does not vanish or fade – we can always turn our eyes towards Him. David wrote this Psalm in the midst of much trauma – I am sure his heart was racing – there was much to fear from his enemies. And yet, he could respond to God in this way.
The concluding verses of this Psalm have been with me today: “I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” (v13-14.) Remembering how God demonstrates his goodness towards today me has been helpful.
Perhaps next November when the jacaranda flowers again, I will remember this time of waiting for the Lord, being strong and taking heart – and I will say – yes, the Lord is good – He is good indeed – I can see evidence of His goodness.