I really cannot get enough of these cherry blossoms. After church today, I went back to see them, which were even more beautiful and chromatic in the soft morning glow. How I delighted in this early morning’s stillness! No one was in sight except for an old man in the distance feeding the ducks in the river beneath one of these cherry trees. I’ve seen them en masse already, but I was still mesmerized.
I decided to sit under one to think, but nothing came to mind until a handful of cherry blossom petals started falling on me, then onto the dirt. First, this reminded me of one of the many poignant symbolisms of the sakura (Japanese for cherry blossoms) – fallen soldiers, those who’ve died in war (which Shin – one of my private students – shared with me during our lesson). Thus, I said a silent prayer for all soldiers who’ve perished as the petals continued to fall. Second, the falling petals made me think of this – another kind of poignancy – (and what this post will be about): as you grow older, you will lose friends, even ones you thought you’d never lose – fallen friendships if you will. I know this, and yet, there was a particular friend I’d lost that really left me heartbroken. This friend – who I shall call Rufus – was contentiously my best friend (besides my significant other of course) and definitely an answered prayer. Rufus knew my heart; the openness and honesty in our friendship really was uncanny; and he was genuinely a source of strength, comfort, and happiness. I felt an intensity to this friendship that I’d never felt before aside from family and my boyfriend. I thought of and prayed for Rufus every single day, and I embraced his hopes and dreams and problems as if they were my own. I do this with all who are near and dear to me of course, but this particular friendship was all the more intense – perhaps because Rufus had been profoundly instrumental in the cultivation of my spiritual life. He had already been cultivating his own spiritual and religious life, and entered at that key point in my life when I was beginning to earnestly seek the Lord. So, he was there to guide me, which made me naturally gravitate towards him. In such a short period of time – literally in the span of a month or so – we grew incredibly close. I chose to let go of a friend not too long before I met Rufus, so I thanked God for sending me a new one who would help me become holier. The news of Rufus moving to work abroad saddened me as I’d grown so close to him and fond of our weekly conversations over food, but ironically enough, we actually grew even closer through communicating often, if not everyday, via digital messages. And then, just like that, something happened, something changed, and the resilience I’d hoped for in our friendship fell through. I won’t delineate the details for doing so would be compromising the virtue of temperance and brotherly love (and possibly meekness), but after so much tears and deafening silences, confusion, and heartache, I knew it was time to move on. It was time to let go of him. It killed me to admit that, but choosing to stay was killing me more. Though I momentarily succumbed to a weakness fueled by a heavy heart, I vehemently confessed it, and by the grace of God, I was restored. It was in this personal restoration that strengthened my resolve to be more meek and humble, and enabled me to reach out to Rufus despite my hurt, to apologize even though I didn’t exactly know for what, but for anything I may have done or any hurt I may have caused. I tried to ask him what I did wrong, but it was only met with silence. So, I relinquished all this to God, and thanks to Him, I was able to ask for forgiveness, be merciful, and ultimately heal. And in healing, I realized that despite all that’s happened, I am grateful for all this friendship has taught me, the greatest one being this: some of the most treasured people in your life aren’t meant to stay in your life forever. Your paths crossed for a reason, and then it’s done crossing. You can’t pinpoint where it went wrong; you can’t change the situation, or answer all the questions. And you certainly cannot despair. So just as you loved, you must also let go. All you can do is be glad your paths crossed because it gave you wonderful memories to cherish, and taught you valuable life lessons you will carry forever. Our friendship barely lasted for two years, but let me say this: it was beautiful while it lasted, just like these cherry trees. After all, as said in Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4, 6: there’s a time for everything – a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to seek and a time to lose. So it is with friendships, with cherry trees.