Monday, June 14, 2010

The Jacaranda Trees

Every June, the jacaranda trees spring to life in Southern California. The vision of their lavender petals against the background of deep green fern-like leaves is so dramatic that it compels me to stop and pay attention.

This morning, while driving my youngest stepson to first day of his last week of middle school, the streets were so subsumed by blooming jacaranda that it looked as though there had been a lavender snowfall during the night. The trees themselves had been coated with the colorful snow, while the ground and the cars beneath the trees also had a light covering of the achingly beautiful flowers.

I love these experiences of the seasons, when the world has opened into a newness of extraordinary sensual beauty. These kinds of visions allow me to see my everyday surroundings with fresh eyes, as though for the first time. As I seek out new and even more dramatic vistas while I walk or drive through the jacaranda, I find that I am making myself available for the unexpected. For instance, around the corner from our house, there is a jacaranda tree with a vine of blood-red bougainvillea blossoms twining around it. The color combination is almost jaw-dropping.

All this comes back to the magic that is ours when we are present with life as it is being lived. When we stop for a moment, and become aware of the beauty around us in this moment, we are stepping into mindfulness, which has been called the "Abode of the Buddhas." We are awakening from our autopilot drowsiness, and opening to all that this moment has to offer us.

The bloom of a jacaranda tree is truly precious, as well, because it is so impermanent. This wild extravaganza of color will only be with us for another week or so, and then all the flowers will have dropped, and the lush green of the tree will unfold completely. Yet it is the transient nature of this experience that makes it so special and wonderful. The seasons of our own lives have this same quality. We can taste the bloom of the present moment any time we decide to pay attention, and the richness that we experience from this simple act of paying attention will last long after the bloom has faded.



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