Witch Hazel

My friend and I were headed for a morning tea, when this pretty flower stopped us in our tracks. Neither one of us had ever seen anything like it.

She’s taking photos, and we are oohing and aahing and wondering what it is. Coming through our conversation is a persistent “Witch hazel, it’s witch hazel.” Once we registered that someone was speaking to us, we searched for who on the seemingly deserted block.20160305_103115

photo taken by Valerie Neduha

An older woman repeats loudly, “Witch hazel. I have some too. Do you want to see it?” I glanced at my friend who seemed game, so we followed her into her backyard as she called out instructions about her groceries, mentioned her morning swim, and afternoon plans to go to the beach. This older woman is a force to contend with. Nothing about her appearance matched whatever came out of her mouth next. Charmed by the intrigue, we grinned and listened. Before we were fully into the backyard, a man in his pajamas was calling out to my friend by name; she reconnected with a friend from a decade before while I followed the older gardener to her witch hazel and learned of its healing properties.



She explained while they are the same plant, hers is not pruned. Then she sat me in a chair and told me about other plants, her grandchildren, her life, and her philosophy of living after you’re dead. “Unless you believe in an afterlife, all you have is the memories you leave behind.” So she has all 6 of her grandchildren over for a spend the night party at least one night a week, and they come for extended visits during school holidays. She told me of her grandparents and ancestors all the way to the 18th century, and how she figures her current grandchildren will keep her memory alive for at least a hundred years.

And then she was off to her next task, putting the tulips in her arms into some water.

And I have been left thinking about her. I like her. I’ll remember her. Who knows, I might even pop by for a visit. I’ll tell her story; I am telling a bit of it right here.

And I have been left thinking that I do believe in an after life. More precisely, I believe in living with Jesus forever and that my body will die, later to be resurrected, but that my spirit is with Christ.

And that what we think will happen next informs a lot about how we live today.

This week I wonder how she celebrates Easter. Probably in some memorable, fun, imaginative way that her grandchildren will be talking about in seventy years, maybe even emulating.

I’m still celebrating Christ’s some 2,000 years after his death.

Hopefully, in a memorable way so that my grandchildren will be talking and following Christ in some 70 + years.

What I expect in tomorrow and what I expect next year and what I expect in eternity, informs today.

This requires a refitting, of shedding some pain of yesterday, since it can waylay today. I like letting tomorrow and the expectancy of Christ’s goodness, sacrificial love and His power, His resurrection power define tomorrow and so inform the demeanour of my today.

Witch hazel can look so beautifully differently depending on how it is tended.

Human lives can look so differently depending on how they are tended.


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