Earlier this month I had the honor of officiating at my nieces wedding. We stayed in a lovely B& B in the Virginia countryside called Field Stone Farm.
The Bed & Breakfast had gardens which were absolutely beautiful. Sloping gently up the hill in back of the 1770 farm house were various beds, connected by pathways of green lawn. Lilac trees in full bloom were spotted around the area, and in the beds were tulips, blue bells, daffodils, geraniums and more, all at different phases of growth and bloom, working together in harmony creating eye candy beyond description. A half dozen of huge, of hat I was told were white rhododendrons flanked the patio flag stone wall with buds the size of walnuts ready to shortly burst into bloom. Various planters sat around the area alone and in groups, planted with blooming flowers and vines, spilling over with color and texture. Around the corner was the garden gate with a rustic wooden plaque which fittingly said ‘Garden Gate’. Inside the gate large beds were eagerly waiting to be planted, lying ready to receive seeds in the warm May sun.
As I walked around the grounds, it was obvious that this garden with its abundant foliage had been well thought out by its curator to make sure that there was always something in full bloom. The tulips were spent, with a few petals fallen on the ground. Daffodils which had been in full bloom early in the month, were now stalks waiting for next year, as they added nutrients to the soil. The Bluebells were profuse as were various other flowers, which I can’t name, filling the beds with their leaves, flowers and scents, of different sizes and shapes. Then there were the old trees overlooking the grounds as sentries might do, silently surveying all they watched over.
The wedding party was small, some 40 guests who came from all parts of the world to celebrate the marriage of the bride and groom. Close childhood friends, college friends, colleagues, parents and siblings. I was fortunate to preside over the beautiful ceremony which had been carefully crafted by myself, the bride and the groom to be deeply personal and meaningful to them.
Over the course of the weekend, we enjoyed a pre-wedding Bar-B-Q at the B&B, then the wedding ceremony the next day with a reception to follow, dinner and dancing, an after party late into the night and the next evening a bon fire complete with roasted marshmallows under the clear Virginia sky. On the way home I got to thinking about the people I met and the sometimes deep discussions and conversations I had over the three days. The majority of the guests were thirty somethings with highly active careers which brought them to all points of the globe. I met physicists, members of the State Department and the Foreign Service involved in not only life changing but sometimes dangerous work, teachers and retired medical professionals, steel workers, business owners, actors, writers, woodworkers, and artists. The happy proud parents were there, as were assorted siblings. This multifaceted garden of people surrounded the couple with one thing in common; their love and support of the bride and groom. Each with their stories, connections, and individual presence adding to the joy of the occasion.
I was amazed at the energy this group of young people had. They all obviously work very hard and they play hard as well. Three of the couples were expecting within weeks, but it did not stop them from dancing the night away till I thought we were going to be celebrating a few births as well as a wedding. I thought about the white rhododendrons back at the B&B. Their buds ready to unfold, ripe with potential just waiting for their ‘time’ to open and become fully realized. As I write this, they, the flowers and the couples have more than likely given birth.
There were those of us who watched the festivities from the sidelines. Content to leave the dancing to others. I sat. Watched. Listened. Remembered. Remembered my earlier days, when my busy days were packed with work, hobbies and raising children. All of my ‘petals’ in tack and full of color. I sat there enjoying the present moment and the richness of my remembering and the gratitude I have for where I am now, savoring every moment. I watched these intelligent and fascinating young couples full of energy, in the thick of things, making a difference in their fields and thought about the garden back at the B&B, the bluebells, young and fresh, the Queen Ann’s lace strong and proud, the lilac trees full with their lavender scented blossoms. Smaller groupings emerged as old friends gathered to tell stories and re-connect with each other. I saw those of us who were single and few of words, exuding warmth and grace in their smiling eyes as they silently watched over the group. Strong and steady.
Yes, the garden with its contents in differing phases of development and our little wedding party were very much the same. Each a beautiful expression of the life force in action. A perfect out picturing of the circle of life as it continues to unfold, always in the midst of changing. Each stage necessary. Each stage complimenting the previous and the ones to come as they bring their own texture, fragrance and color to this garden we call life.