I have always loved May. It’s really the only time of year in Minnesota that is fairly predictable and pleasant, an oxymoron if there is one. The “I can’t believe it’s snowing again” comments of April are packed away, next to the ten-inch thick parkas and insulated facemasks (the kind that leaves kids light-headed as mothers insist, “Dear, there REALLY IS a nose hole in one of those layers). We’ve not reached the point of asking, “Is that a bird buzzing in the house, or another swarm of mosquitoes?” And landscapers aren’t yet grimacing at the plight of the brutally beaten plants, taken out by the “serial sun killer” of summer. (And you thought that Minnesota was ALWAYS cold.) No, in Minnesota-land, we’re opening the windows, spreading grass seed, and zealously buying cans of cream of mushroom soup, frozen tater tots, and ground beef, for soon church socials will move outdoors and the good Lutheran offers potluck hot dishes as part of the worship tithe.
And of course, the lilacs bloom.
It’s good, to have the lilacs bloom. They blossom in three colors: deep purple, lavender, and white. Different bushes produce different colors, but lilac bushes grow close together. One looks at the multi-hued flowerets touching—almost kissing—and can’t help but think, despite the science of the matter, that it’s all the same tree, or at least, there is a sharing of roots. Each blossom seems to live and speak for its neighbor, not only itself. Each blossom speaks of communion.
We’ve just spent months isolated in our houses, barely able to nod at each other at the gas station for all the padding. After a long and hard winter, we look to be resurrected. We look to be a little more naked. We look to be touched and smiled upon. Lilacs promise a sort of salvation, a respite from endurance and a restoration of closeness.
Lilacs remind us that we are intertwined.
Lilacs embody a message of hope, but also a subtle threat. If you can touch someone else—with a smile, a word, or a prayer—then you can be touched. And that heart you just opened to the world, offered at the altar of hope, could as easily be sliced and diced as appreciated and cherished. We can commune like lilacs chatting in the breeze, sending gossip into the great beyond on the wings of the butterflies, or we can just plain hurt each other. Whatever we choose to do, we must know that we actually do exist in an enmeshed system, one that assures everything we think, do, and say is communicated swiftly to the people and living around us, and also to everything everywhere.
In her book The Field, Lynn McTaggart explains that we exist within a great field of light that links us all. Her scientific assertion is long overdue, for cultures around the world have known this fact for thousands of years. The ancient Incas presented a cosmology in which the Great Luminosity—a field of light—interplays within the entirety of the Universe. Luminous threads of light emanate from energy centers in our body, connecting us to the plants, animals, people, and stars. On a mountain in Bolivia, the Quollahuayas Indians continue a tradition of living connected to the land. They believe that the mountain is alive. Divided in three parts, the mountain mirrors three aspects of the body—and one’s body reflects the categories of land. And in Genesis, the initiating book of the Torah, Koran, and Christian Bible, we find that in the beginning, was the void—and the Spirit, which proceeded to create everything out of nothing. This everything is yet animate within everything—we might say, the Love of God unifies all that understands and has yet to understand it.
When a child sniffs a lilac in Minnesota—perhaps even picks a bundle and trundles off to delight mom, her actions and her feelings, her statement of love, are broadcast throughout the known and unknown universe. When yet another person frowns at the invading smell, gets out the pruning shears, and proceeds to strip the land and his own soul of beauty, the repercussions of this act and his bitterness, the statements of hatred, are also publicized.
It’s not necessarily comfortable to think that our way of being has such broad ramifications. Years ago, a researcher professed a theory that has become labeled, “the butterfly effect.” The story has spun, over the decades, to acknowledge that the flapping wings of a butterfly in South America can provide the critical element causing a hurricane thousands of miles away. In other words, if a butterfly is having a bad day you could end up with one yourself.
We are interconnected. We are caught and spun together in a mesh of light. Through our interconnectivity, we can either share light or further the dark. Lilacs, at least in Minnesota, remind of the power of light. The darkest days are over. The fallen snowflakes—stars that don’t think they deserve to remain in the sky—have melted. The sun reigns. Everything is blooming, and we can, too. We don’t have to wait until we die and go to “heaven” to sparkle. We don’t have to be a star in the sky to be luminous on earth. As we are every year, we’re now provided the opportunity to select the attitude we want to express and live—to select the person we want to be for ourselves and to others. Are we going to flower this year—or not? (What would a lilac tell you to do?)