The Four Seasons.
Each year I watch my favorite tree. It's a yellow plum tree that grows by our driveway. The flowers are the most beautiful you've ever seen and smell like a warm spring day. This year it gave me a picture of a woman's life.
Spring is where life begins. A tiny bud forms on the tree - the woman as a baby. She grows until she bursts into the beautiful, delicate flower of a young woman. All through this growth, the flower experiences trials like frosts, storms, and strong winds. Each trial brings strength to will and limb, preparing her to bear the weight of Summer.
Ah, Summer for the tree. The Summer of life. This is where the flower's petals - a woman's youth - transforms into fruit, be it children or otherwise. She covers these seeds with her love and her own flesh. She shades them under her leaves. She feeds them, and they grow. The pain she experiences in this time of life is when an insect or bird comes and attacks her shield on what she holds dear. But she does not give up! Each hole pecked in her precious fruit she covers over with a sweet syrup that hardens into a stronger shield. In such a way, the woman must cover wounds with sweet forgiveness and become yet stronger. She gives of herself for the sake of her precious seed. Then at the proper time comes the Autumn of the woman's life.
Leaves begin to turn as Autumn arrives for my plum tree, and with it the loss of the fruit on the tree. Children grow up and leave to start new lives and families. The woman hopes she has protected them so that they would survive. They are surrounded by their mother's love and care, giving them the power to grow on their own. She hopes they will grow straight and tall like she is. She fears her own future and what might happen if she had failed her seed in some way. She watches over them and hopes and prays. Some of her fruit fell to the ground before its time. She mourns their loss. But even as these trials face her, she does not give up. She dresses herself with brightness of the turning leaves and all who see her marvel at her beauty, less innocent than the flowers of Spring or the fullness of Summer. She is more fragile now, but strength remains. Now is the time to take on new responsibilities to fulfill before the Winter comes.
Winter steals upon the tree, cold and bitter. The snow falls, and with it the leaves. The woman's hair turns to the white of the falling snow. She knows she has little time remaining in this world, but she bears that knowledge with honor. This is the season of wisdom, and she has much experiences gained by the frosts of youth - a child's lost teddy bear; a best friend lost; a young, broken heart. She has brought her seed through the trials of summer as outsiders and at times her family attack her goal. She knows the loss felt when the children leave and even chores like laundry seem a heart-wrenching reminder as the sweet children's clothing is packed away for grandchildren. She has seen these things. She has wept these tears. But she knows this is not a season given to her for sadness! No, for the winter is when the woman shields the snow from the seeds sleeping about her feet and teaches them her wisdom. She shares all that she knows about the seasons of life and prepares them just as her mother and grandmother did before.
Spring comes, and a tiny bud forms on the branch of my yellow plum tree...