Burgundy sunflower

Burgundy sunflower
Crescent Moon Designs Henna Art

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Cherry blossoms for Japan

Cherry blossoms for Japan

This post on  Positively Beauty made me think about the recent disasters in Japan, other natural disasters, cherry blossoms, and the paradox of life.
Japanese cherry blossoms

The cherry blossom, the very symbol of spring, is also a symbol of the fleeting existance of life. Cherry trees grow best in places with real seasons, but the transition between seasons is usually erratic and sometimes harsh. When I lived in Baltimore, I witnessed more than one cascade of transcendant cherry blooms vanish and die after a sudden April ice storm. And yet, the next spring, there they were: cherry blossoms in all their pink radiance even though another ice storm was on the horizon.

And that seems to be what life is about. Life flourishes despite of impending disaster. Life simply is.

Throughout Earth's history, life has flourished, then been nearly wiped out, then re-emerged to bloom again. The K-T extinction event from around 65.5 million years ago is the most famous example of this seeming paradox. A huge asteroid slammed into the earth, creating massive tidal waves, volcanoes, earthquakes and climate changes. Most life on earth was wiped out. There is very little evidence of life in the fossil records from the late Cretaceous period.
Artist Don Davis' rendition of the K-T impact

 In fact, the earth has experienced at least 5 major extinction events with several minor ones, and yet life has always returned to continue doing what it does: live.

I grew up in tornado country where we were always aware how quickly things could be destroyed by a single, destructive funnel cloud.  My hometown of Nashville, TN has been shaped and reshaped by ruthless tornadoes. The tornadoes of April 1998 obliterated most of the downtown area and uprooted trees near my mother's house. In May of last year, severe thunderstorms brought more than 13 inches of rain to an already saturated Nashville and caused extensive flooding. And the city continues on, despite repeated disasters.
The 2003 Cedar fire threatens a suburban neighborhood in San Diego

I currently live in Southern California which is an area that faces yearly wildfires and is waiting for the "Big One", the 6.7 or greater earthquake that will happen within the next 30 years.  Or, it could happen tomorrow. But after the shock, damage, and destruction, people manage to survive.  The parts of the Cleveland National Forest that were charred by the 2003 Cedar Fire are now starting to recover with new growth.

California poppies are blooming once again in areas devasted by the 2003 Cedar Fire
We are small creatures who live on a planet that is fragile and at the whims of both its own instabilities and to the dangers from beyond our atmospheric borders. We are cherry blossoms, and when disasters strike, we pick up and bloom again because that is just what we do.

The process of picking up and renewing is messy and difficult. But it is inevitable.  It is the cycle of life.  And in time (after a lot of help), Japan will also blossom and thrive again.

In the meantime, give what you can, send prayers and positive thoughts, and reflect on our lives as cherry blossoms. We are lucky. We are so lucky.

The American Red Cross provides direct assistance of food, water, shelter and medical aid

AmeriCares is also giving direct aid to people in need

Have you had experiences with natural disasters?   What are some of your stories?

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