Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Consider the Lily

As you might imagine, running the TH -- even just on weekends -- can be an enormous drain, not only physically but emotionally and financially as well.

A couple of weeks ago I finally hit a wall: I was exhausted; things at Carswell seemed somehow to be going awry; the TH's traffic had been very slow over the previous month. The toaster oven had died the previous weekend as did a fridge, causing me to lose a goodly portion of perishables.

I had fretted all week while I was away as to what I could do about the fridge and toaster oven. And then, to top it all off, the plane that was bringing me back to Calgary was late, taxiing to its leisurely halt at 7:22 pm on Friday evening.

Now, Costco closes at 8:30. Even my most optimistic guess didn't allow for deplaning, the inevitable wait for luggage, the even longer wait for the Park'n'Jet shuttle, the drive to Costco and then the shopping -- all to be completed in one hour and eight minutes!

So what's a woman to do? I did what comes naturally -- called my sister from the plane as soon as the seatbelt sign went off, intending to beg her to pick me up at the airport and take me to Costco, and I would come back later and collect my temporarily abandoned suitcase and car.

Deborah just burst out laughing. "Get your luggage and car and give me your list: I'm in Costco right now myself." I couldn't have scripted a better solution to my immediate problem -- although a few fellow travellers looked askance at me when I ordered 12 whipping creams and 8 lbs. of butter!

I finished up at the airport and proceeded to Superstore to do the rest of the shopping, and then collected my Costco purchases and reimbursed Deb for them. We realized that we had forgotten to get fresh flowers for the tables -- and then Deb considered the flowers growing in her front garden and cut me a lovely bouquet of lilies.

I started to head home at about 10 p.m. when, 20 minutes out of the city, I remembered that I was supposed to pick up a package of syrups that my coffee distributor was going to have stashed for me under a bush in front of their shop. I turned around and drove back into Calgary -- only to find no package in the regular hiding place (speaking to them on Monday, they had simply forgotten to put it out!). Wearily I pointed my car in the direction of home again, wondering drearily if this was the straw that was going to break this camel's back or if something else was going to hit me.

At that moment a lovely perfume wafted up from the back seat to the front of my car, and "consider the lilies" immediately penetrated my sombre thoughts. These flowers had nothing to do except to be. If the rain and violent winds hit them, they couldn't run for shelter; if the sun shone on them they basked in the rays. They couldn't control one thing about their circumstances. They certainly hadn't asked to be cut that evening! And yet they were so beautiful and sturdy and brought so much joy -- just by being!

As I eased my way through Timmie's drivethrough (extra-large double-double -- on top of everything else those lilies didn't even have to stay awake to drive!), I resolved to be grateful for the opportunities I have been given and the privileges I experience every day. How many people can say that they truly love their job? And yet, I have two "jobs" that I truly love, so much so that neither of them feels like I am working.

With this new-found gratitude came a sudden liberating rush of realization that I am where I am supposed to be for right now, just like the lilies. There is not much I can do about rising prices, crippling local taxes, late-night drives from Calgary, dearth of guests. What I can control is my attitude and reaction to my circumstances. I can just be in the place where I have been planted, enjoying the sunshine, appreciating the rain, bracing myself against the wind, until one of two things happens: I will have put down strong roots and will produce perennial blooms, or I will be selected to be transplanted into another garden. (How would I be as a hot-house flower?!)

I pulled into my driveway at about midnight, so happy and thankful to be home, to be at my wonderful magical tea house home again.

I pushed the automatic door opener and started unloading the groceries when I sensed that something wasn't quite the same as before. It took me a moment to realize that across the room from me there was a fridge with something stuck on the front of it. In disbelief I walked over and read the sign taped to the front of a brand new fridge:


I peeked inside and all my pop, sparkling juices, etc. -- everything that could be salvaged -- had been stocked into this new fridge.

I looked over at my Dad, my Dad who always stays up late on a Friday night to help me unpack my groceries because he knows it is the thing I dread the most out of the entire week, and he was just beaming. "Dad, you shouldn't have ..." I started to say, and he shushed me and said that he was able to do this and he wanted to do this for me and the tea house, and that we had better get the butter into the fridge.

I started to carry eggs and dairy into the cooler in the kitchen and the first thing that caught my eye there was a shiny new toaster oven! I was ready to weep, just overwhelmed with my father's generosity and my Father's provision for what I desperately needed but could not afford to purchase at all.

As I hugged my Dad he said that we need to help each other where we can, when we can, and that he was privileged to have been given the means to help me so that the TH could continue to be a haven for other people.

Then on Saturday morning one of my regular guests came in and said he was heading into Calgary and would be happy to pick up the flavoured syrups I needed ...

At the end of the weekend I thought of those crazy lilies again -- BethAnne had divided and arranged them so that every table in the TH was graced by their beauty, and on Sunday evening I had given some to some of my guests so that they too would be able to enjoy their fragrance and loveliness into the week -- and I realized that no amount of worrying or fretting could have conjured up a fridge or a toaster oven or customers for me (yes, our end-of-weekend totals had risen slightly!).

And I was filled with gratitude for even the timing of my horticultural lesson: because I had been able to let go of some of my anxieties before I got to the TH on Friday night, I was able to revel in the enormous grace of the gifts I had received, not only of the fridge and oven but the timing of Debbie being at Costco and the generosity of her cutting the most beautiful blooms in her garden for the TH to enjoy, and the talent that BethAnne displayed in their simple, charming arrangements. Even the timing of the guest coming into the TH on Saturday morning and being able to pick up the syrups from Calgary for me was a gift! If I had NOT come to the conclusion that it is better just to trust and to be before I arrived back home, either I would have entirely missed all those moments of grace, or they would have felt more in the nature of a rebuke.

I being who I am, however, I am going to forget the lesson many times and will have to be reminded -- in ways both gentle and stern, I am sure! -- and so before it gets to that I will try to remember to pop back to this page and look at the picture at the top of this entry and then close my eyes and recollect the scent of the lily and the smile of my father and know that all I have to do at that very moment is to breathe it all in ... and to realize that my roots are curling deeper into this rich, luxuriant soil into which I've been planted.

1 comment:

  1. Amazing Grace! And those Fathers of ours! And you. . . you're bloomin' beautiful! You bloom no matter where you are planted.


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