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Posts Tagged ‘zinnia’

Some days the delight and joy seem like just too much. The air is clear and clean and sparkling, and the rich green is deep and all around, and the birds and bees and butterflies are busy in the gardens. You could drown in the fresh ferns down in the woods if you strolled there, along the brook. This is my world as I sit on the back porch step and try to take it all in.  I feel a tear rolling down my cheek. I am remembering yesterday.

Yesterday, dead-heading iris out among the perennials with the warm sunshine on my back, I was ambushed by peaceful quiet joy as I noticed the blooming zinnias; simple, strong uncomplicated petals. They required nothing of me. They simply were. And they were simply perfect. Three pretty blooms, smiling, and I smiled back, filled with gladness. and gratitude.

Immediately sorrow and anguish swelled and tumbled out at as well, without invitation. My smile, which I felt emerging from a deep, happy place in my soul, caught on my face and twisted. As I felt my cramped cheek muscle contort my smile into a snarl, the grief of living with Bell’s Palsy hit me afresh, as it does daily, and I sobbed there alone in the garden.

We don’t think much about our faces. We sort of take them for granted. We don’t really contemplate that the expressiveness of our face is the reflection of our soul to the world. Until it doesn’t work. For most of us, without disability, we merrily go about living our lives, smiling and laughing at what brings us joy, crying, frowning, speaking our words without trying to manage half our tongue at the same time, expressing and releasing all manner of unintended emotion.

When half of your face is paralyzed, half of your soul stays locked behind in the prison of immobile muscles. And for some of us with BP, healing nerves bring spasms and contractions, often ending up with unusable hypertonic muscles that keep the cheek and lip drawn up in unpleasant contortion. It hurts when the photographer says “smile” and you know you are smiling as big as you can, and the result is something that looks more like a sneer. It hurts to know that you ruin everyone else’s picture, so you stop smiling and learn, with concentration, how to produce a small facsimile. It is lonely there.

And so, smiling at the zinnias, I burst into tears, bumping into my prison bars out there alone in the garden. The zinnias, unperturbed and requiring nothing, smiled back.

This morning, with my steaming mug of black french roast coffee, sitting on the back porch steps and soaking up the glory of this place in which I get to live, my tear is in gratitude for my zinnia.  I realize that if half of the petals yesterday had been curled or distorted, I wouldn’t have been blessed and delighted, but would have turned away.  It is a challenge to my faith to remember to believe that my value, and therefore my beauty, is secured in the heart of my Creator.  He is unperturbed and requires nothing of me, but to bask in his love and in turn offer that love to all I meet.  That’s the same journey we’re all on, and now I’m trying to learn that I can do that even with half a face.

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