Winter in many locations is signaled by a blanket of white snow or at least the dormancy of the lush greens of trees and lawns. But it is not so for the Bay Area. Our pattern of drought is getting a reprieve with some much prayed for rain storms. The coming winter is being ushered in with orange, yellow and green.
When I want a moment of such color, tranquility and harmony I look to the fall/winter leaves at the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park. This area was originally created as a “Japanese Village” showcasing a Japanese-style garden exhibit for the 1894 California Midwinter International Exposition.
But sometimes beautiful places have bittersweet memories. When the fair closed, Japanese landscape architect Makoto Hagiwara remained on site to create and maintain a permanent Japanese style garden as a gift for posterity. He used his personal wealth, passion, and creative talent to create a garden of utmost perfection.
But in 1942 the Hagiwara family, along with approximately 120,000 Japanese Americans, was forced to evacuate its home and move into an internment camp. When the war was over, the Hagiwaras were not allowed to return to their home at the tea garden.
Perhaps the beautiful colors around us can help us remember and even leave behind the gloomy winter times of our histories and souls and lead us to communities and systems of transformational harmony. With such a prayer on our lips and in our hearts may we enter into the winter that is before us.
Many of the mystics loved to draw analogies between nature and grace. Mariam Baouardy (1846-1878) found comfort in such comparisons even under the stress of diabolical persecution. In her spiritual poetry and songs she wrote:Hail, hail, Tree of Life, that gives us the fruit of Life! I see on thy leaves these words are written: Have no fear of anything! Thy verdure says: Have hope. Thy branches tell me: Charity. And thy shade: Humility.