Deep roots

Aren't they pretty, considering they spent days with their faces down on the ground?  The abundant petals that weighed them down also made their blooms stronger.

Aren’t they pretty, considering they spent days with their faces down on the ground?
The abundant petals that weighed them down also seem to make the blooms stronger.

“The old that is strong does not wither.  Deep roots are not reached by the frost.”
J. R. R. Tolkien

I quoted from this poem in an earlier post, but recently its timeless words have been on my mind again.  I was reminded of these particular lines by the daffodils in my yard. Daffodils are my favorite flowers, toughing out the cold and blooming before the weather warms up enough to justify their bright optimism.  Year after year, they prove that the frost doesn’t kill everything.

The doubles I planted years ago have been disappointing outdoors, though.  They are so beautifully full that they have a hard time holding their heads up when they reach peak bloom. They generally nosedive to the ground just when they look prettiest.  (Does anyone have any hints how to solve this?  It would take a lot of stakes to hold them all up.)

The other day, I was so sad seeing them all lying face down in the foliage that I decided to do what some gardeners have told me not to do: cut them and bring them inside.  I figured they were nearly gone anyway, and I wanted to enjoy them.

I was surprised to find that not only had they retained their lush beauty, but with the support of a crystal bud vase, they kept their showy splendor for over a week indoors, far longer than my ordinary daffodils ever do.  I simply bound them together loosely to help support their weight, and they brought me joy every time I saw them.  They even traveled from York to Alexandria wrapped in a wet paper towel, and arrived none the worse for wear.

That got me thinking about how people often are like that.  Sometimes the very virtues that make us remarkable can also act as liabilities, holding us back or wearing us out unless we get the support we need.

This is especially true as we grow older.  While each of us experiences the loss of some of our physical or mental abilities, it seems that everyone has areas where they remain strong, and these traits do not wither.  In fact, many of them, such as wisdom, patience or compassion, grow stronger with age.  Like the gorgeous blooms of the drooping daffodils, that which is strong in us sometimes remains with us until we die, no matter how beset with illness or infirmity we grow.

I once knew a lovely lady who had the best manners of anyone I had ever seen.  Just being around her inspired me to want to be more gracious and polite.  Her kindness and courtesy remained with her to the end of her days, endearing her to the health care staff who attended to her needs through years of living with Alzheimer’s disease.

We all have known people who remained astoundingly strong in the face of grave illness, mentally sharp even when dealing with physical decline, or resolutely cheerful despite lacking abilities that most of us would consider necessary for happiness.  Often, their challenges and losses mean they require a bit of extra support, but the beauty of their unique gifts shines on, blessing all who are lucky enough to know them.

This post was first published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.

6 Comments

  1. bendichoso

    Hello Ms. Julia, Happy Wednesday! This is a wonderful post. It reminds me to keep my head up no matter what trials or struggles that I am going through. Thank you for the gentle reminder. God Bless, Ben

    • Ben, you’re welcome! You may know that Tolkien, the author of this well-known quote, was a devout Catholic. He was one of the key influences in the conversion of his fellow Oxford professor, C. S. Lewis (my favorite author), from atheism to Christianity. Lewis became arguably the greatest Christian apologist of the 20th Century, and his books remain popular today.

  2. Praying you are doing better each day, my friend!❤🛐❤

    • Thank you so much, Cherie! Progress has been gradual, but I do feel more normal now. I hope to be getting some temporary false front teeth soon! 😀

  3. Wow, I love this post, Julia!
    Thank you. I needed that little perspective adjustment today.
    You have just helped prop me up!
    I would like to help prop you up, too.

    • Thank you, Susan. Just keep those prayers and good wishes coming. I’ve needed them for so long, but it looks like I’ll continue to need them as long as I live. Which, of course, we all do. ❤

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