As I’ve said in previous posts, I love Claude Monet; I love his gardens at Giverny; and I love his paintings, many of which are of water lilies. So I was thrilled to find a few years back that at our city’s Botanical Garden a water lily pond had been created. “Et voilá” here are some that were in full bloom in that pond today–magnificent beauties rooted in “dust” and anchored in water glowing in the bright Texas sun of a late August day.
Here is a problem, a wonder for all to see.
Look at this marvelous thing I hold in my hand!
This is a magic surprising, a mystery
Strange as a miracle, harder to understand.
What is it? Only a handful of earth: to your touch
A dry rough powder you trample beneath your feet,
Dark and lifeless; but think for a moment, how much
It hides and holds that is beautiful, bitter, or sweet.
Think of the glory of color! The red of the rose,
Green of the myriad leaves and the fields of grass,
Yellow as bright as the sun where the daffodil blows,
Purple where violets nod as the breezes pass.
Think of the manifold form, of the oak and the vine,
Nut, and fruit, and cluster, and ears of corn;
Of the anchored water-lily, a thing divine,
Unfolding its dazzling snow to the kiss of morn.
Who shall compass or fathom God’s thought profound?
We can but praise, for we may not understand;
But there’s no more beautiful riddle the whole world round
Than is hid in this heap of dust I hold in my hand.
~Excerpted lines from Dust, a poem
by Celia Thaxter
Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living thing. ~Genesis 2:7 ✝
Because they are primeval, because they outlive us,
because they are fixed, trees seem to emanate a sense of permanence.
And though rooted in earth, they seem to touch the sky.
For these reasons it is natural to feel we might learn wisdom from them,
to haunt about them with the idea that if we could only read
their silent riddle rightly we should learn some secret vital
to our real, our lasting and spiritual existence.
Before the sun fell over the edge of the world yesterday, it painted its recently traversed path with reddish-pink and mauve streaks. In between the streaks were smaller golden rays that eventually blended into the pinker bands of light. As these streaks shot up to the sky’s pinnacle, they oozed deliciousness through the open spaces in one of my favorite trees. It’s a sycamore tree directly across the street from our house, and it’s so old that most of its bark has fallen away. When it has, as it has now, lost most of its floppy brown leaves the tree’s strange fruits are more visible as area its long, slender alabaster arms, arms that seem to reach up and caress the heavens’ spacious blue lagoons. Another thing I love about this particular tree is that in winter’s chilling winds its clattering branches seem to whisper prophecies of another spring’s birthing beneath the soil in silent chambers waiting for the prompting of the sun’s warmth on lengthening days and spring rains.
I’m the first one to admit that sometimes I’m hard pressed on difficult days to find reasons to be joyful, but I’m learning to look expectantly as well as long enough to find some measure of God’s glory in the day at hand. When dealing with a run of painful days as I am now, it becomes not only more challenging but also more necessary. The Holy Spirit within is the protector of one’s spiritual flame as well as a guide, and so if one turns inward to look for an appointment of grace, he/she will find what’s needed to press upward and onward. On this day that spark of relief and mercy was found in the beauty of a tree.
This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. ~Psalm 118:24 ✝