Two springs ago, my parents offered to give us some of the overgrown ferns that were spreading through their glorious woods. Awesome! I said I’d be by the next day to pick them up and transplant them into my garden.

I remember that day because we had a downpour – hardly good gardening weather! But my dad went out to the woods anyway, dug up some ferns and carefully loaded them into the back of my car. He was so hopeful that they’d survive and add a little more beauty to our backyard. I can still see him in his soggy baseball cap and fogged-up glasses…and feel him giving me a kiss on the forehead before sending me and the ferns on our way.

That summer, the ferns were not happy. They clearly didn’t like their new surroundings {or maybe the way I planted them} and fought the change like crazy. They browned and curled and shriveled up within a few weeks. I was bummed and figured they were a lost cause.

But to my surprise, the ferns decided to give life another chance. Last spring, they burst into the world with new fervor and grew big and beautiful all summer long. I was so delighted! I imagined the ferns had spent that previous winter consulting each other beneath the frozen soil, going over their options:

“We liked our old woods. We didn’t ask for this change! But…if we keep fighting it, we’ll have no energy to thrive. If we allow ourselves to see the good around us, maybe we’ll feel good again, too. We do have some nice neighbors – hosta, lady slippers, tulips. And that woman seems to really want us to survive. So…let’s give this another shot.”

They did! And they were gorgeous. Now, spring is here again – and the ferns are unfurling in a wondrous way, emerging from their fetal position leaf by leaf. I caught myself thinking I should call my dad to share the good news – then realized I couldn’t and got a lump in my throat.  I didn’t ask for this change, I thought. I liked the way things were – not this new world, without him physically in it.

But as I sat with that precious baby fern, I knew it was whispering its own wisdom to me: “if we allow ourselves to see the good around us, maybe we’ll feel good again, too.” Every fiber of my being knows this to be true – but I needed a reminder from the unfurling ferns. As I sat there on the ground, I knew my dad was right there, too – still kissing me on the forehead and sending me on my way.

The ferns are choosing beauty. I am choosing beauty. And life is good.