The sun was a fair scoot up the horizon by the time we got outside to clip back a bouquet of lilacs. It was Anna’s idea, and we had only a few minutes before the bus stopped at the end of our country lane.
It was her last day of school.
She grabbed the scissors, and I grabbed the iPhone, to snap a few frames, which I would later plunk down in the Instrammable archive that has become my cheap, default scrapbook.
She ran; I walked. And she just sort of giggled the whole way down the hill, and I told her that thing about not running with scissors, but she kept on going, like she was chasing glory.
Which she was.
She got there first, of course, and by the time I arrived on the scene, her whole face was pressed into those lilacs. I envied her in that moment, how she could just lose herself like that in a scrubby old bush in our backyard. In a way she reminded me of me — the me I want to be, anyhow, the me that gets so blasted lost in the inglorious nature of “maturity.”
I grew up in the lilacs.
We had this enormous, misshapen lilac bush on the edge of the yard, out by the road, and it was so large that I could walk between the branches and hide in the middle. I’d look up, face toward the blinding sun, and the branches would sway in the breeze, repositioning their shadows along my barely tanned arms. I felt so small, squinting in my scratchy cave, and I thought it would be forever until I got big enough to reach the lilacs on the high branches.
And then, with the accumulation of years, I got tall enough to reach the lilacs, but too inattentive to stretch for them. I stopping pressing my face into the lilacs.
Anna snipped bouquets. I snapped pictures, and remembered how we’d planted these lilac bushes in 2004, the year she was born. We planted five in all, and I couldn’t wait for the following spring, when the lilacs would proliferate in purple.
But that next spring, the year Anna turned one, barely any lilacs bloomed at all. And the ones that materialized were white, not purple. And I was kind of sore about the whole deal, not sure who to blame. But then I just sort of forgot about it.
That was nine years ago. Next week, Anna will turn ten. No more girls in single digits in the Lee house.
My nine-year-old Anna snipped more lilacs — some for her teacher, and some for our house. She held one under my nose, and I breathed it in deep, and I might have even closed my eyes. The lilacs smelled purple.
We walked up the hill, and then down the driveway, with bouquets in our hands. And like we do every morning, we prayed together as we walked toward the mailbox, where the bus stops. This time, though, I couldn’t get through my prayers when it got to my turn. I scuffed a toe at the gravel.
Anna turned to me, with her flowers at her side, and raised her eyebrows, as if to ask, without words, “What’s wrong, Mom?”
But I swallowed down that lump that swelled up in my throat, and clutched tight to my little bouquet. I muttered some prayer about the last day of school, and then said Amen, but I also kept on praying quietly as we walked along, side by side.
Because in a twinkling of an eye, she’ll be growing her own lilacs, and she’ll be tall enough to reach the high branches, and maybe she’ll remember that bundle she carried down the lane, and how her mother could hardly pray on account of a lump in her throat. And she’ll understand it then. She’ll understand why. And maybe she’ll know then, how I prayed that she’d always run for the lilacs. And that maturity wouldn’t chase the kid out of her soul. And that the world would always, always smell like the color purple in spring.
So, what’s your Story?
A #TellHisStory is any story that connects your story into the story of God. (And as you can see with the case study above, some stories have almost zero spiritual application!)
You’re invited to tell that story right here, in community with us.
Share your narratives, your poems, your Instagrams tagged with #TellHisStory, … your beautiful hearts. You are the chroniclers, the people who help others make sense of the world with your words and your art.
Story is how we know that, no matter what happens, we can get back up again.
Visit someone (or two) in the link-up to encourage with a comment. Then, Tweet about your posts, and the posts you visit, with the #TellHisStory hashtag. Come back on Friday to visit our Featured #TellHisStory, in the sidebar.
A final note: This is a safe place to tell your stories. You don’t have to be a professional writer to join us. Story is built into every single one of us. Your story matters, because it’s part of God’s story down through history, not because you punctuated everything correctly. Deal?
For more details on the #TellHisStory linkup, click here. Share the love of story by visiting someone else in the community!