Rachel

Endings

shallow focus photography of sunflower with bee
Photo by Jennifer Murray on Pexels.com

The sunflowers in our garden were enormous. They blocked out the sun for the rest of the patch. In the shade, with so many days of rain, everything grew, overgrew, wild and tangled. A mess of morning glories ravaged nearly everything in its path.

When we pulled the sunflowers out, after they died, I couldn’t believe the stalks, how thick they were. The bulk of them. “All this from a seed!” I kept saying. “Since May!” No one else seemed as impressed as I was, as surprised by the fecundity. The huge growth in a short time.

They were so tough, those stalks. Unpleasantly tough. You could build a treehouse out of them. I worried about putting them into the compost bin. They would take forever to break down.

There is a little bit of sadness in the end of a project. Even a shaky, uneven one. We didn’t post twice every week as planned. And for the past several months – more? – it has been mainly just me posting. This didn’t become the place for conversation and collaboration I had dreamed it might. One wants to write “but” and offer something to offset the disappointment —a lesson in self-reliance, a glimmering metaphor about finishing a hike alone. But no, I’ll let it stay as it is. I’ll sit with the disappointment and not spin it into something that attempts to obscure it.

Yet this ending is a beginning too, as all endings are.

Here we are at the start of the school year, and the start of the Jewish New Year, even as the days are growing shorter and the light is leaving.

With writing so often things grow, overgrow, wild and tangled, not what you intended. Maybe you hack away at the mess and find a treasure, or maybe there’s nothing there but emptiness, a patch of dirt, the chance to begin again.

Of course I’ve always known Jewish holidays begin the evening before, but until attending my first ever Rosh Hashanah service last week, I never stopped to think that the Jewish day itself begins in the evening.

The birds ate the sunflower seeds, the remains of the flowers and stalks are now part of the compost bin, ready for metamorphosis into dirt for the garden next spring. The light is gone, for today, this project over, but in the evening, on our way soon to sleep, the day is also beginning. Let’s dream it into something worthy of all the growth from this past year, and the many others we’ve already lived and bid farewell.

—Rachel

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