Saturday, April 19, 2014

A Thing of Beauty

What comes to mind when you think of a spring wildflower? Perhaps something pastel in color and delicately shaped? When I look at the Skunk Cabbage pictured above, a different sort of description comes to mind. I think of words like hardy, stout, unconventional, or prickly. Believe it or not, sitting here looking at this picture reminds me of a worker I encountered at Walmart recently.

I came upon her as I made my way to the housewares aisle. She was hoisting an over-sized box up near her head like it was nothing. I took a few seconds to notice a few things about her. She had a harshness about her. She was burly. Not very feminine in appearance. She seemed preoccupied by more than her work. Underlying her gruff exterior I sensed a certain vulnerability. My heart went out to her.

I was in a hurry, but I paused for just a second before her and said, "Watch it, now! You be careful lifting stuff up like that." The hardness crumbled just a bit and I smiled at her. It wasn't much, but a change came over her. Was it because someone cared about her? She visibly softened, returned my smile, and offered a thank you. And that was that.

I continued to think about her on the drive home. Not being much of a beauty myself in a worldly way, I wondered what she might believe about herself. Did she buy into the whole erroneous idea of what it means to be beautiful in our society? Did she realize her value? That she was lovingly made with a purpose?

As I've aged, my concept of beauty has broadened. It's been my experience that it is a rare occasion when youth has eyes to see beauty in all of its different forms. The flower at the top of this page is beautiful in its own way. Certainly not dainty, I'd describe it more along the lines of "earthy". Among the first flowers to burst forth in the spring, to me, it is always a glorious sight for sore eyes. The confining days of winter are drawing to an end and I know that the dying season is over - at least for a time. I appreciate the skunk cabbage's bold splashes of color. And that spiky ball at its center reminds me that some people guard their hearts with prickly exteriors in an effort to keep others at arm's length where they can't hurt them as easily.

Father, I lift up this beautiful young woman to You. I don't know much about her, not even her name, but You do. I wonder if she knows You? If not, would You please draw her lovingly to Yourself by Your Spirit? If she does know You, I pray that You would draw her even nearer to Your heart. Chase away any darkness in her - anything and everything that is not of You. Lord, would You help her to realize Your love for her? Cause that knowledge to permeate her thought processes and take root deep down in her heart, transforming her. Let Your unshakable love overcome her to Your glory. In the beautiful name of Jesus I pray, Amen. 

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