Cherry blossoms remind us to appreciate life, beauty and the other moments and things we encounter while we have them, either in spite of or because of the fact that they will end. And as the falling petals teach, even the end can be beautiful.
The Japanese phrase for this is mono no aware (the “alas” of things), a quiet sadness at the passing nature of all things. It is a bittersweet consciousness that nothing we love lasts, but that does not render the love worthless.
The attitude may be hinted at in English by Shakespeare in his Sonnet 73, “That time of year thou mayst in me behold”:
This thou perceiv’st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.
It is Lent, a time to reflect on our lives and the other gifts we have been given by God but have failed to really receive.
Perhaps we have failed to notice them. Perhaps we reject or ignore them because they are not what we expected or wanted. They may seem small, like the cherry blossom. They may seem too limited, like the mankai period. The cherry trees call us to look, to pay attention, to see.
For those who see with the eyes of the heart, each gift is an infinitely beautiful grace from the One for whom even our short lives are beautiful beyond measure.
We are God’s sakura.