Tuesday, April 27, 2010

An Extended Season of Hope



At my first initiation into earth-based wiccan spirituality, way back in the wayback machine, one of the "gifts of the earth" I was given was iris, a single stalk with a tight bud at the tip. The high priestess said, "Here is iris, for hope ... though ... this one looks dead." Indeed it did look dead, all brown and slightly shrivelled. Everyone laughed.

After the ritual, I spread newspapers over the floor in a sunny room in my house. I placed all the herbs and flowers I had been given on the newspapers. My plan was to dry them thoroughly, then maybe make a pillow stuffed with these magical plants.

A couple of days later when I went into the room to see how the mummification process was proceeding, I saw at once that the allegedly dead iris had bloomed, without water, without anyone's loving attention. Ah. Hope springs eternal, I thought. I took a polaroid of this miraculous event, because even staring at it directly, I couldn't believe it had happened. Isn't that something? That the dead iris bloomed? I think it is.

I am not a cynic, or at least I try not to be. In my society at this moment in history, it is so hard to resist the urge to get tight and brittle, to criticize everything and always expect the worst from everyone. I know lots of people who are proud to be cynical; they consider it realistic - whatever that is.

What I know is that when I lapse into cynicism, I feel mean, bitter. My energy gets so tight that I feel like I can't breathe. I want to hurt someone's feelings, hurl insults for no reason at all. I feel fragile, like I could shatter into a million sharp little pieces at any second. I HATE feeling cynical! It's exhausting.

This spring in Washington DC we are having a long, luxurious and extended iris season. Ordinarily they don't begin to bloom until right around the first of May. By May 15th they are usually done. But this year they bloomed early, at least two weeks ago. Their voluptuous flowers continue to open all over Capitol Hill and I assume all over the city as well.

As a committed non-cynic, I am LOVING this. No matter how disheartened and divided we are in the U.S., no matter how cranky, cynical, and derisive we are, no matter whether or not I'm the only one to notice, hope springs eternal. Where there's hope, cynicism melts like the wicked witch of the west. Oh yeah.

With a bow and a salute to my allies the iris: THANK YOU!! We need you. We do.

24 comments:

Butternut Squash said...

Hiya Reya,

I was with a friend and her 13 year old daughter over the weekend and we were talking about the sorry state of affairs and conflicts in the world. The 13 year old said, "But it's all changing now. We were at a low point last year but everything is changing. You can't feel it yet because it is just on the horizon." She said it with such knowing that I just have to believe she's right. I remember being a kid full of optimism. Time for me to pick that cynical hard shell off and let myself be born again full of hope.

I love your iris rising from the dead. The will to live and bloom is so powerful.

Reya Mellicker said...

I believe her, too!! Thank you for this, so much!

Barry said...

Our season is a good month or more behind yours, so our iris have yet to bloom.

But I believe they will and I believe hope is very realistic.

Paul C said...

Funny how we remember so vividly where we get our perennial stock. We got our irises from two spinster English teacher sisters who retired just when I started. They sensed how much my wife and I love to garden. Perennials as a symbol of hope is so meaningful....every year they bloom with stunning beauty for several weeks. It's a hope that permeates all the seasons, a quiet nurturing.

ellen abbott said...

I am naturally optimistic. And you are right, it feels so good. My other half on the other hand is naturally pessimistic. I just don't see the value in finding all the faults before all the good, but he does. He says it helps him be able to deal with all the things that can go wrong. But to me, it's just inviting all those things to go wrong. I'd rather think something good and go with it. If problems occur, deal with them then.

Reya Mellicker said...

Barry I agree completely that hope is realistic.

Sometimes I fall headfirst into pessimism. I am so miserable and depressed, yikes. Cynicism feels more pointed to me, sharper, more dangerous.

But as you say, Ellen, life is going by. We have a choice about how we face it. As I get older, I feel more and more that lingering in pessimism and cynicism is a monumental waste of my time.

Onwards & upwards, oh yeah!!

John Hayes said...

Yes, we need hope & as you so rightly say, to have hope you have to be open to it. Lovely iris pix!

The Bug said...

This morning I glanced at my little cup of tomato seeds (that I had mostly forgotten & ignored) & there was a sprout! Why, I might actually eat a tomato off that thing later this summer! Life finds a way - it really does.

Mary Ellen said...

As I move into the "pushing 60" period of my life, I find I don't have time for cynicism. Also, I've been here (whatever the here is) before - end-of-world fears, economic nose dives, and so on. One year, I asked a couple of very elderly friends what kept them going through the turmoil. One answer that has stuck with me is a belief in angels - from someone I wouldn't have predicted. That is, it's so unlikely that we could have become the civilization we are (becoming) that some outside element has to be at least hypothesized. I feel that way about the earth - as both fragile and amazingly resilient. What do we really have time for in this one life (wild and precious, as Mary Oliver puts it)? Not sneers and complaints, I believe, but learning to love deeply, hope wildly, and celebrate gladly.

Reya Mellicker said...

Mary Ellen, YES. I believe in angels completely and fully. I don't try to understand that belief, but I do notice angelic interventions on my behalf all the time.

xx

Ronda Laveen said...

I love your iris story. What a spring luxury to have such a long blooming season. To me, the iris is the flower that is most representative of female form, energy and anatomy. Those pictues are so sensual.

willow said...

Hee. Being cynical is exhausting. That shade of iris is beautiful!

Tom said...

year of Iris...sweet! i can't help but think we've got a bit more misery to slog through to climb out of this mess we've wallowed into--not really being cynical, just practical. either way, we'll come out smelling like a ...iris?

Reya Mellicker said...

It's not cynical to say we have a lot of work to do, and a lot more waking up to do. That IS practical. For me cynical means being completely bitter, suspecting the worst from everyone and everything. It's a poisonous state of being. AT least to me.

Elizabeth said...

Yes, we have beach roses blooming here in APRIL wow!
why?
anyway it is lovely.
ditto your irises..
I'm always full of hope even while listening to Goldman Sachs hearings in the background.........hm.........
I enjoyed Dave King's haiku about spring

I would like to be a philosopher-mystic but am too grounded in the things of this worldyes you need to come to NYC

lakeviewer said...

That iris sealed the deal with you. Life is stronger than we anticipate.

Deborah said...

beautiful

thank you

and much love

Barbara said...

Reya,

Thank you for putting into words what cynicism does to me as well. By nature I am a positive, happy, glass half full type of person. This past year has turned me somehow into a more cynical version of me and I don't like how it makes me feel; "like I could break into a million sharp little pieces" I am working hard to return to my regular self. Reading your words in this post really struck a chord.

Peace!

Barbara Martin said...

Hope springs eternal...especially for your iris, Reya.

C.M. Jackson said...

I do believe I see a light too and it isn't a freight train--go on and be happy and believe in the possibilities--positive energy makes us bloom just like your iris!

Kerry said...

The purple-y brown irises that used to proliferate in my parents' garden always reminded me of root beer, isn't that odd? I love 'em.

Positive, non-cynical people sometimes have an open-mindedness that many others lack. Maybe that's why I always look forward to what you have to say.

Jane said...

I think hope gets us to keep our heads up, looking forward. Cynicism/pessimism keeps us looking down, where we spend too much time watching our step.

Reya Mellicker said...

I love the association of iris with root beer. Something about that is so cool!

Jane thanks for the visit!

And Barbara, may your heart heal and your good nature return!!

Karen said...

I love this story! Thank you for sharing! (Every time I try to type something here about hope, it sounds too sappy, so I'll quit while I'm ahead... :) )

When I want to feel hopeful, I watch the video (from a conference a couple years ago) where Paul Hawken talks about "blessed unrest"... Here's a link if you'd like to watch it:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1fiubmOqH4

It makes me feel glad, every time, and hopeful that something is getting better, even if I don't see it.