Thursday, April 14, 2011


Tidal Basin 2011 photo: Lam
Each year people from all over the world travel to the Nation's Capital to see the Cherry Blossoms.  This is an amazing phenomenon for a few reasons.  The first is that only God knows when the flowers will actually appear. We can make general predictions, but like last year when the trees bloomed early, we can never be sure.  The ephemeral nature of the flowers is what makes it so special when the day you choose to venture downtown, ends up being a peak day.  Ephemeral or not, we plan picnics and parades, festivals and fanfare around the three week window when the trees tend to bloom.  We flock to the Tidal Basin for a glimpse of the trees blanketed in blossoms.  From afar they look like spring snow, with a pink warmth, almost floating on the branches before opening their parachutes and dancing through the air, the breeze's manifesto.

The Cherry Trees were a gift from Japan in 1912.  A relationship was forged during the time it took to acquire the trees and finally get them in the ground. (This wasn't easy. Check out:  Cherry Blossom Time Line.)

As history progresses we see this gift threatened as it becomes a representation of the heavier aspects of nature.  The Cherry Blossom Trees can been viewed as a tangible example of the seasonal waxing and waning of the human condition.  Each flower can represent a separate piece of our condition: generosity and graciousness, fear and necessity, pride, pain, regret, forgiveness, perseverance, glory.  When we look at the long relationship between Japan and the United States, we can never forget that it only took a moment to nearly destroy each other, and it took years in the re-paving.  Now-- a natural disaster, not a human one, has damaged Japan and challenged us to deepen our friendship and forge ahead.

photo: Lam

Japan's real gift to us is a reminder that time does heal most wounds, that love does cover a multitude of wrongs. we can be reconciled to one another, and best of all beauty can continue to emerge.   Lucky for those of us close to DC, this reminder emerges each year as a ring of Flowering Cherries that have endured and blossomed, been grafted, reborn and remained for 99 years.

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