My Desert Marigolds with their bright yellow flowers are growing out across the sidewalk in front of my house. These double petal daisy-like flowers, stretching out toward the sun, are a sign of spring in my Arizona garden. The heavy winter rains have given the perennials a significant boost and extended the blooming period. I watched them edging out onto the sidewalk and so I would trim them and bring them in for a bouquet in the house. I cut again and again, but finally, they were sneaking so far out onto the sidewalk, I noticed walkers kicking at them, stepping on them oblivious to their beauty.
My dear husband transformed into a menace by the power trimmer in his hand said, “It is time, I’m going to cut them back, I couldn’t watch. . . .When I returned, they lay scattered on the ground.
I carefully swept them up, feeling sad, apologizing to them for cutting their life short. What could I do with so many? I could not bear to toss them away.
I looked at the mass of flowers, and I had an idea. One by one, I snipped the heads from the stems, I began to think about the need to accommodate the people on the sidewalk. I had bad thoughts about them, and I felt sad for my flowers, I wanted the flowers to have one more chance to create beauty in this world.
I have always liked this definition of grace, “the opportunity to have a generosity of spirit, to give without resentment or expecting something in return.” I was sure people stepped on them because they didn’t like flowers. But maybe that isn’t the reason. A city designs sidewalks at a minimum width to make it easy for two people to walk side by side. Just because I have the biggest, most beautiful, and very best flowers on my street does not mean there is a different rule for the sidewalk width in front of my house. Perhaps the two people walking side by side love the person next to them even more than I love my flowers. I need to remember this and offer grace to everyone who walks the sidewalk. Yes, some people don’t like flowers, and it’s hard for me to understand how this is possible. But this is not the reason I need to trim my flowers, and that menace with the power trimmer is just gently reminding me I am not the only person on my block. Flowers are my north star, they are my guiding delight, and I believe their beauty and their purpose is essential in this world. Still, I must and will, with grace, share the space on the sidewalk and in this world with others.