"the flower falls"
1 Peter 1:24
I had a very unusual experience a couple of weeks ago. Very unusual. Not huge, but something I can be pretty sure will never happen to me again.
When my sisters were in town with their hubbies (and one nephew) we went to Disneyland together. It was a fun, but very long day. We got there shortly after opening, and stayed until closing, and of course, you're on your feet nearly the whole time. Not just walking, but also a lot of standing, and occasionally a little running.
So at the end of the day, we dragged our tired bodies to the loading area for the trams that would take us to the parking structure. We were in line behind another family, although you couldn't really call it a "line," per se. The kids sat on the curb, and the grownups were all sort of grouped. I was towards the front of our family. The family in front of us was a couple of grownups, and a few kids, who all seemed to be in their mid- to late-teens.
We were all just standing there waiting... not much energy for anything else...
And while I was standing there, I was holding a flower in my hands. Just a little daisy type of flower. Maybe a gazania. My wonderful children often pick wildflowers for me. I have dozens of them tucked into my Bibles and other books in my house. And maybe even a couple tucked in my wallet.
My Amazing Boy had picked this flower for me as we had walked, and I didn't want to crush it by putting it in my bag. So I just held it. We walked from Fantasyland, around the Matterhorn to Main Street, and halfway down Main Street to the lockers, where we retrieved our sunglasses and my brother-in-law's jacket. Then the rest of the way down Main Street to the front gate, through the turnstile, past the entrance to California Adventure, past the stroller/wheelchair rental, and the kennel, past the entrance to Downtown Disney --
Did I mention we were really tired?
And all that way, I gently held my flower. And then, as I stood and waited for the parking lot tram, behind a family of strangers, one of the teenagers in the group silently pulled the flower out of my hand. I was a little stunned, and a little confused. I guess I assumed he wanted to see it, or something; I don't know what I was thinking, but it was only a half a second.
And a half a second later, while I stood, incredulous, he quickly and silently tore my flower to shreds, then dropped the pieces on the ground like confetti.
No one else saw. His family was all facing forward, and my family was either behind me, or off to the side chatting with each other. I was absolutely dumbfounded.
A minute later, he put his head on his mother's shoulder, and I immediately knew by the way they interacted with each other, that he was autistic. And that, I guess, explained it.
I mean, it didn't, but it did. I can't for the life of me imagine why he took a flower out of a stranger's hands, and destroyed it. But he probably doesn't know either.
It's not hard to forgive him. I understand enough about autism to know that he really didn't have full awareness of what he was doing, and that it never occurred to him it was unkind. But I gotta be honest, it really, really felt unkind. I felt like I'd been slapped. Small, meaningless, and replaceable though it was, the flower was a gift from my baby, and I was sad that it was gone.
And please remember I was exhausted.
And you know what the lesson is in this story?
Unexplainable, weird, painful, wrong, bizarre, surprising, sad stuff happens. For no reason. And life doesn't apologize. It just is.
Sometimes all we can do is sigh, lean closer into the Lord, and wait for the next flower.
For there will be another.
~ "Behold the winter is past;
the rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth,
the time of singing has come" ~
Song of Solomon 2:11-12