When we moved into our new home, I could see a tree with glossy green leaves from the large windows that overlooked our courtyard garden.
As it was wintertime, we had no idea what the tree was.
However, when summer came, and large cone-shaped buds formed on the tree we learnt that it was a ‘Little Gem’ Magnolia.
I was amazed when the first bud opened revealing a large white flower of breathtaking beauty.
But I soon realised the large, exquisitely perfumed flower was short-lived. The white petals faded before turning brown.
It was only after the petals had fallen that I noticed something else. The cone-shaped centre of the flower that remained, became a thing of beauty in its own right.
Eventually the cone-shaped centre changed too until it was covered in what looked like small, tightly compressed green leaves, reminiscent of praying hands. They seemed to be protecting something. Over time, each tiny green leaf was tipped with red spikes.
Eventually the spikes were too prickly to touch.
Only when the colours faded, did the cone-shape centre reveal that it was protecting seeds.
Upon reflection, I saw that the cycle of the magnolia flower from bud to the end of its life, emulated the cycle of our own lives.
The closed bud reminded me of our babyhood when our potential is unknown.
The white flower when in full bloom reminded me of the high-energy time of adulthood when our talents and gifts blossomed.
Inevitably, this stage doesn’t last forever as signified by the falling petals.
But the remaining cone-shaped centre of the flower covered in what appeared to be tightly compressed, small green leaves, like praying hands, represented older age.
Maybe the seeds, that were being protected by the red spikes, can be likened to the stories of faith, courage and resilience that lie within each of us, that need to be protected so they can be passed on.
The Little Gem Magnolia tree, which I could see though our windows, taught me much, and I’m grateful for its abiding and flourishing presence.