I love art and I love fresh flowers. On a recent Friday night I attended a reception for an artist friend. It was the opening of her new exhibit. On this a beautiful September evening, the mood in the small gallery was high. After slowly taking in the beauty of each of the paintings, I paused to gaze at two large lovely bouquets set on either side of the wine and cheese.
On the left was a tall ribboned vase filled with large red roses. On the right was a rich autumn arrangement of oranges, reds, and golds. As I admired the display, the artist came up beside me. She quietly confided, “The roses are from my sweetheart. The others are from my ex.” She smiled, pleased.
After decades of watching the hurt, heartbreak, and just plain hell that divorce can bring, this moment struck right to the center of my heart. Forgiveness, I thought. Thoughtfulness. Generosity. Appreciation. This is how it can be.
The artist and her husband had divorced six years prior. Still, on this day, enough good remained between them that he celebrated and honored her important occasion. She, in turn, appreciated his generosity and thoughtfulness.
What would it be like if all divorcing couples could find their way to this place? How do we remind those in the middle of the divorce process that there is value in holding a vision like this for their future?
If we could, there would be fewer people telling divorce horror stories. There would be fewer unforgivable actions taken in litigation. There would be more people celebrating the successes of a person they have known for many years and once cared for deeply.
Two days later I found myself walking up the steps to the home of my former spouse. I was there to pick up our oldest son. After months of drought, I could not help but admire how the flowers blooming near his front porch were thriving.
“Your flowers look great,” I said. “Oh, thanks. Would you like some?” A few minutes later, as I left with my son and his backpack, he handed me a small red plastic cup with a dozen little pink and orange zinnias.
This moment struck right into the center of my heart. Forgiveness, I thought. Thoughtfulness. Generosity. Appreciation.
For all of the hurt, anger, and disappointment which had passed between us in years gone by, none of it could be found in this moment. What remained in its place was the best of who we both are. Forgiving. Thoughtful. Generous. Appreciative.