A Lesson From a Magnolia Tree
Lydia Mulkey
May 23, 2023

For everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born and a time to die;
a time to plant and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill and a time to heal;
a time to break down and a time to build up;
a time to weep and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn and a time to dance;
a time to throw away stones and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek and a time to lose;
a time to keep and a time to throw away;
 a time to tear and a time to sew;
a time to keep silent and a time to speak;
a time to love and a time to hate;
a time for war and a time for peace.

What gain have the workers from their toil? I have seen the business that God has given to everyone to be busy with. God has made everything suitable for its time; moreover, God has put a sense of past and future into their minds, yet they cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I know that there is nothing better for them than to be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they live; moreover, it is God’s gift that all should eat and drink and take pleasure in all their toil. I know that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it nor anything taken from it; God has done this so that all should stand in awe before God. That which is already has been, that which is to be already is, and God seeks out what has gone by.
~Ecclesiastes 3:1-9

There is a magnolia tree in my front yard. This being my second spring living in this home, I was so excited for it to bloom. As the temperatures fluctuated wildly and we would freeze and thaw and freeze and thaw, I worried about the tree. Would this be the year it simply couldn’t bloom? Then it happened! Beautiful white and pink blooms in a canopy over my head. It was magical. But, as quickly as they had come, every last one fell to the ground. It was a moment of beauty, gone in an instant.

I looked at that tree and felt a little bit sad for it. All year it waits to bloom and then it’s only given a few days. I looked at the ground and realized those flowers that had fallen would enrich the soil and help the tree grow stronger. Maybe the tree liked its green leaves as much as its flowers anyway. How could I know? This tree might like every single moment in its annual cycle of flowering, greening, losing its leaves, and resting for winter.
As for my annual cycle, I can’t say I enjoy every single moment. There are some challenging days in the winter when I long for the renewal I feel on that first 80° day. There are days when I couldn’t possibly bring myself to bloom. There are fall days when it feels like everything may fall apart and I cling a little too much to the past.

The magnolia tree reminds me that every part of the cycle serves a purpose. Some days we bloom, other days our losses enrich the soil so we can bloom again a few seasons from now.