Underneath the Red Bud Tree
Drawn off course, as if by an invisible magnet, my steps swerved suddenly and stopped still before the garden’s dark iron gate. Scarcely more than a few feet off of a busy downtown street, the small verdant bubble was an oasis, a unexpected haven. The city’s center held this living jewel in its chest, a throbbing green heart in a sea of stone and cement. To the left of the gate a sign read: Enter this chapel garden to find peace, strength, and beauty.
As if in a trance, I stepped inside. Time slowed. The air was rich and heavy with the sound of songs and fluttering wings of birds all around. Long warbles, short chuckles, harsh sharp cackles, trilling melodies, sweet chirps, and slow whistles blended smoothly with the gentle breeze and brilliant bursts of color scattered round. “So this is where life hides,” breathed I, sinking onto the bench beneath an inviting tree and opening my notebook. Purple petal floated from above, interrupting thoughts and pages. My eyes traveled up.
The tree, so graciously donating the falling blossoms, was a most mysterious one. Try as I might, I could not recall another quite like it. The blooms were not limited to the upper limbs, but burst brilliantly from the intermediate branches. Patches of purple petals even poked from the trunk itself as if the gnarled bark wrapped around the the tree’s slender core was quite incapable of containing the lively spirit within. Slanting above the bench on which I rested, it regally scattered reminders of loveliness, beautiful energy and collected quiet calm.
“How many people,” I whispered to the tree, “slow down long enough to visit you?” She only swayed and sighed as sounds of motors and shoes rushed by. Until today, I belonged with them, but in that moment of calm, I met a friend. (4/12/12)
(Originally posted on my old blog, Interim Arts, on January 12, 2014 )