Ephemeral Beauty

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Are we to look at cherry blossoms only in full bloom,
the moon only when it is cloudless? 
To long for the moon while looking on the rain,
to lower the blinds and be unaware
of the passing of the spring –

these are even more deeply moving. 
Branches about to blossom
or gardens strewn with flowers
are worthier of our admiration.

~Yoshida Kenko

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Beauty, to the Japanese of old, held together the ephemeral with the sacred. Cherry blossoms are most beautiful as they fall, and that experience of appreciation lead the Japanese to consider their mortality. Hakanai bi (ephemeral beauty) denotes sadness, and yet in the awareness of the pathos of life, the Japanese found profound beauty.

For the Japanese, the sense of beauty is deeply tragic, tied to the inevitability of death.

Jesus’ tears were also ephemeral and beautiful. His tears remain with us as an enduring reminder of the Savior who weeps. Rather than to despair, though, Jesus’ tears lead the way to the greatest hope of the resurrection. Rather than suicide, Jesus’ tears lead to abundant life.
~Makoto Fujimura

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Again today I will see patients in my clinic who are struggling with depression, who are contemplating whether living another day is worth the pain and effort.  Most describe their feelings completely dry-eyed, unwilling to let their emotions flow from inside and flood their outsides.  Others sit soaking in tears of hopelessness and despair.

Their weeping moves and reassures me — it is a raw and authentic spilling over when the internal dam is breaking.  It is so human, yet we know tears contain the divine.

When I read that Jesus weeps as He witnesses the tears of grief of His dear friends, I am comforted.  He understands and feels what we feel, His tears just as plentiful and salty, His overwhelming feelings of love brimming so full they must be let go and cannot be held back.

Our Jesus who wept with us became a promise of ultimate joy.

There is beauty in this, His rain of tears, the spilling of the divine onto our mortal soil.

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A fallen blossom
Returning to the bough, I thought –
But no, a butterfly.
~Arakida Moritake (1473-1549)

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fallen sakura petals in Tokyo (photo by Nate Gibson)

8 thoughts on “Ephemeral Beauty

  1. Exquisite pics, beautiful thoughts, dear Emily.
    Knowing that Jesus, God Incarnate, weeps with and for us and that those same tears contain the Divine is more than merely consoling. It is an infinitesimal measure of His love and care for us.

    I am forwarding this post to a friend in Japan. He is an expat from Cork, Ireland who has lived there for 48 years, is married to a Japanese woman and has two grand-daughters. I think he has signed on to receive your posts. If not, I wanted to be sure that he sees this one.

    Thank you.

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  2. Great post.
    When we witness Christ on the Cross and the empty grave, we find that love has overcome death, and from that day forward, for those who believe in Him, always will. Christ proves to us that suffering has value and, if endured, truly leads to a greater good. And no greater good is there than eternal life enfolded in God’s perfect love.
    -Alan

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  3. I have always loved that observation by Mako. Thank you for quoting it. And your photos remind me of what I will one day soon see outside my window. The tree is just budding, barely perceptible, but it is coming.

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  4. Reblogged this on Witnesses to Hope and commented:
    “Jesus’ tears were also ephemeral and beautiful. His tears remain with us as an enduring reminder of the Savior who weeps. Rather than to despair, though, Jesus’ tears lead the way to the greatest hope of the resurrection. Rather than suicide, Jesus’ tears lead to abundant life.”
    ~Makoto Fujimura

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  5. Beautiful! Reminds me of when the almond blossoms drop at the same time on our 2,000 almond orchard. The blossoms aren’t as heavy as the cherry or as pink, but it does look like snow when they are falling. Now I will be able to relate them to the tears of Jesus.

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