First, the sunset that Monday evening was truly beautiful. That happens so often here that we almost don’t notice it, but that one was blazing for attention.
Second, the annual Perseid meteor shower was at its peak that night. I must admit that, though I looked, the only falling star I saw, much less caught and put in my pocket, was, well, one. Still, I find it incredible that the Lord uses dust particles to create both sunsets and meteor showers. Yes, indeed, “the heavens declare the glory of God”!
Ah, but the most amazing thing I saw that night was not in the sky; it was on the ground out near our backyard fence.
May I offer some background to the backyard event?
My Granddaddy Key died in 1975. Granddaddy had a plant he was fond of, a plant of a variety that is easy to share. He gave cuttings to my mother and some others in our family. My younger brother passed one on to me. Which I killed. Not easy to do, unless you freeze it, which I did. Then he gave me another one.
The plant is what most folks call a “night-blooming Cereus.” And that’s the thing: it blooms only at night, and any single bloom lasts only one night.
Jim remembers Granddaddy staying up all night to watch his Cereus bloom. And Jim’s plant put on quite a blooming show with about a dozen blooms, about thirteen years ago.
So when our six-year-old granddaughter and the grandmother I’m married to found a bud, looking like a space alien, protruding from our bedraggled and seriously hail-damaged Cereus plant, we all took notice. I’d been planning to prune that thing back, but procrastination won the day. Good thing!
I set my alarm for several nights so I could be sure the blooming Cereus didn’t sneak up on me. On the fourth evening, one look said, “Tonight’s the night!” At 9:30 or so, it started opening. By midnight, almost exploding from the skankiest-looking leaf you ever saw, we had a brilliantly white eight-inch blossom looking like it had come straight from Eden. Holy moments! Amazingly beautiful. And, by 12:40, it was starting to wilt.
Our Lord amazes me. No sanctimonious Puritanical bean-counter, God is recklessly extravagant with beauty! It’s there, if we’ll just look. In people. In things. In places. That plant is an ugly duckling for sure, but, wow! “When the time had fully come,” at just the right moment, God does what we’d never expect in ways we could never imagine.
I wonder how much we miss seeing because we live in a fog, half-asleep and stumbling around with our eyes closed? I wonder how much important and beautiful we miss as we’re tyrannized by what is simply loud and “urgent”?
God’s joy won’t be quenched because our eyes are closed, and, unlike some who have claimed to speak for him, he is not in the least afraid of beauty or joy, or, fearful lest he run out, miserly in the use of either.
God would have put on that show even if we’d never noticed. But what a shame if we’d missed it!
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Copyright 2013 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.