by Lucinda Secrest McDowell

We only have one small tree in our front yard.  By choice. When we downsized last year from a 5 bedroom colonial parsonage to a much smaller cape cod cottage, we deliberately chose a yard that required little upkeep. But this pink dogwood sits right outside the bay window of our porch and is a beautiful focal point throughout each season.

October 2011

Back in October it was laden with leaves when a freak 12-inch snow-and-ice-storm hit Connecticut and left us without power for a week. Ice usually just crystallizes bare limbs in winter, but this time it covered the leaves, the heavy weight bringing every branch to the ground. By the time all was melted, we had lost more than half of the tree. What a sad sight. It look chopped up and forlorn. I wondered all winter if that little tree would make it… The elements of the years had been brutal at times; this final blow…

April 2012

On this late April day I glance out to see beautiful pink blossoms on a seemingly-full dogwood tree! Spring has come and our little-tree-that-could is once again blossoming and cheery. What a story of resilience and perseverance! And how much more beautiful it is to me because I remember the loss, the broken limbs, the heavy weight of ice…

Resilient has two distinct definitions: 1. returning to the original form or position after being bent, compressed, or stretched. 2. recovering readily from illness, depression, adversity or the like; buoyant.

Sarah Hasty Secrest – Then

My mother — Sarah Hasty Secrest — is like our little tree. She perseveres! Next month my sisters and I will take Mama on a special celebration journey for her 85th birthday. I’m delighted to make some more memories amongst those who know me best…the Secrest gals.

Just like our dogwood, Mama has experienced unexpected storms that weighed her down and even broke off a few bits. In recent months she said goodbye to her husband of 62 years (my Daddy) after an especially challenging decade for both of them. She is a widow and she is in constant physical pain.

Sarah Hasty Secrest – Now

But Mama is also very resilient. She has forged through the past months, learning new roles and responsibilities and determining to live as fully as possible, even with some physical limitations. I admire her for that and I hope to be that strong when I am 85…

Perhaps it is no coincidence that Mama’s birthday falls on Mother’s Day weekend. I literally cannot wait to celebrate with her and two of my other favorite mothers (my sisters). But I also hope to sit at her feet and soak up even more lifelong wisdom of how to persevere, how to bounce back, how to keep going in a grace-filled, grateful manner.
Storms will come.
Ice will make us brittle sometimes and lead to loss and brokeness.
But Spring will also come.
When it does, we can choose to turn our faces towards the Sun and wear our most beautiful garments of pink, shouting to the world “I’m still here and God is faithful!”

Happy Birthday Mama. You are beautiful.

“She is strong and respected and not afraid of the future. She speaks with a gentle wisdom. She is always busy and looks after her family’s needs. Her children show their appreciation, and her husband praises her… Charm is deceptive and beauty disappears, but a woman who honors the Lord should be praised. Give her credit for all she does. She deserves the respect of everyone.”                (Proverbs 31.25-31 Good News Bible)


under the mercy, Cindy

copyright 2012 Lucinda Secrest McDowell

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One Response to Resilience

  1. I love your visual and you do continure to inspire me as your mom does for you…You are a heartfelt writer and I am so thankful that I have beautiful memories of times with you at work, through good and bad, and all the beautiful memories of Bibles Studies and get togethers at “Grace Haven”…I treasure them and you as a friend…You help me stay “Resilient”…Like your beautiful Dogwood tree…I will share this on my page on FB at Create Your Own Rainbow!!! I have my own story there of encouragement and God’s love…I am amazed at the amount of “likes” I have…God is so faithful and we both know that so well…Love you my dear sister in Christ…Peggy

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