Yesterday morning my youngest daughter and I were sitting at the kitchen table discussing a Wii cooking game that she thinks she wants for her birthday. Her birthday isn’t until June, but an eight and two-thirds year old evidently needs to get a good start on such plans. No sooner had she uttered a contrary assessment of the negative reviews the game has received, when she abruptly noticed the faded flowers on the table. They were the tulips her daddy had given me for Valentine’s Day. Just days before we had marveled over their full-bloom glory. Our sudden discourse about this state of nature reminded me of the Bible verse (Isaiah 40:7) that we say responsively in church every week after the reading of scripture. (Our pastor says the first part and the congregation responds with the conclusion.) I began the verse, “The grass withers, the flower fades…” and then waited expectantly for her finish the recitation. She obliged, “But the word of the Lord remains forever.” She did so with a quizzical look in her blue eyes.
“Doesn’t it say, ‘the flower FALLS’?” she questioned. I argued that I thought it was FADES. We found an old bulletin to settle the dispute.
It turns out that I have been participating in this responsive exercise for nearly a year now and not paying attention to what I was hearing. It’s not that my hearing is going (although my husband would argue that’s an issue, too); it’s that the translation I am most familiar with does use the word fades, instead of falls. I’ve been sitting there on auto pilot, and have never re-programmed my brain with the different translation. At least that’s what I’m telling myself. The real answer is probably that while my daughter’s young brain is like those beautiful vividly blossoming tulips of earlier in the week, my own is more like the fading ones before us.
My 15-year old daughter has called dibs on preserving these withering beauties. I hope she’ll do the same for her aging mother some day.