Standing Among the Flowers at Midnight
It’s midnight as I write this, fallen awake again at the wrong hours, night after night, exhausted but vividly in tune. The room goes dark, and it’s all technicolor for me, an odd synesthesia behind these lids.
It’s quiet, and my vision goes to standing rain in the garden. It stood on and off for weeks, and the plants froze, green and immature, stuck in an early June portrait in mid-July. It has been all small green on a mud backdrop. At first only the volunteer vegetables made progress. Only this week have my tomatoes yawned out a few pale fruits. There was one ripe one, a red tommy toe, how we called them when I was little. I ate it tonight when I went to shew the chickens in.
Here at night, what I see is the day’s memory of what’s to the side of the corn and beans and future melons: the healthiest patch of zinnias. My eyes close, and there I see them, bright pink like on little girl sashes. I didn’t plant a single one of those big-headed flowers. They stem up from each other, building so that to cut one would be to cut three in near-bloom. I leave them be. I simply walk to the garden to stand among them. Maybe you belong among them, too.
Maybe you were awake at midnight.
Thank goodness for a visual memory sometimes. Often I see fabric. I close my eyes and there’s paisley. That’s ridiculous. It’s okay. I love it. I try to focus on the zinnias, the basketweave, the gold stitch, or the orange cone rising from the pink echinacea.
My chest hurts, another course study in Anxiety 101, and it’s stupid – as is my sudden fear of certain foods and my fear of ibuprofen and my fear of cancer and strokes and leaving my children motherless. Focus on the flowers. Imagine you’ve walked up on a tiger lily. Talk to her.
“At first, you’re a pucker. Then you curl back on yourself and show the inside. It’s where you keep a design some copy for their Sunday dresses. We don’t need to ask what you’re made of, tiger lily. We see it. You’re made of worry-free fabric.”
If I really belong among the flowers, the ones that beckon me at midnight accompanied by Tom Petty, no less, then I will do the simple thing. I will write it out.
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Philippians 4:4-8).
I recall God to say, “Come let us reason together.” What is this place for if I can’t sit up in the dark next to my husband and my baby so I can hash out a little reason. God is at hand. I don’t know what the Greek on that means, but I’ll imagine it just means He’s here. He’s as close as my hands. He’s at the keys.
It’s assumed here that anxiety is a choice, like either you can eat a pickle or you can eat a cookie, but it seems to me that my body doesn’t tend to obey the choice my brain wants to make for me. Anxiety acts like a strong desire. It feels like lust, consuming, not as much like a pickle.
But I’ll be among the flowers and pray because we know that cannot hurt. I will let my thanksgiving turn into praise. Picture the day. Thank goodness. Thank goodness for the flowers.
Already peace has wound me down, slow hands now on the keys. God is here. There’s my reason to sleep.