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I slowly open the door to the third floor and am struck by the sweet smell of flowers. The sticky sap permeates the entire floor, including the office, and I feel enveloped by it. The scent is deliciously intoxicating yet completely overwhelming at the same time.

The culprit? A large potted tree in the bathroom that dear Timo gave his mother when he was in elementary school. It was small at the time, like he was, yet it now takes over the far corner of the bathroom by the window. In its nearly two decades of life the tree has always been a blend of brown and green, roots and leaves. Until recently.

Now it sprouts long stems of beautiful flowers. Each one resembles a firework bursting, long white lights shooting out from the center. Pop! And with the explosion comes the fragrance. And with the fragrance comes the stark reminder that the plant exists.

I was talking to a friend yesterday about how restless I am in this phase of my life and she gave me these words from Thomas Merton: “Love winter, when the plant says nothing.” She went on to remind me that winter may appear to be a desolate time but, underneath the ground, living things are preparing for the spring when they will bloom.

It’s hard to know how long the winter will last (this poor plant was in winter for years) but when it ends the spring will be all the more fragrant.