Friday, March 31, 2006
Cherry Blossom Time
Along with the rest of creation, I headed to the tidal basin this week for the blooming of the Yoshino cherry trees.
I saw for myself what the big fuss was all about.
In fact, I went a couple of times to see the difference between the trees in early bloom and at their peak. I may go back again in a few days as these millions of tiny pink and white petals take to the air on spirited spring breezes, like so many solid snowflakes, to make way for the sprouting green leaves.
Beautiful pink and white blossoms, bright blue skies, and tons of marble. The fleeting beauty of the fragile cherry blossoms juxtaposed with the gnarled and knotted wood of these aging trees would be contrast enough to inspire a contemplative moment or two, but add to that the weighty and enduring element of these huge monolithic structures dedicated to our foundational leaders and you can't help but want to honor something.
And that's what we did.
We all came together, walked the circle, crossed bridges, took photos, and enjoyed the freedom and friendship these trees, monuments, and body of water symbolize. These great things were born of difficult times-- war, revolution, and rising tides, yet their beauty and strength are serene and peaceful. The roots and stone convey stability and security.
The founders of this nation had it right. The true honor belongs only to the creator of all things, the faithful provider of life, liberty, and indescribeable joy-- our Heavenly Father. The truths that were so "self-evident" in their time are being veiled and distorted today. We are so easily distracted. Our "pursuit of happiness" has us chasing after what the enemy (the father of lies) tells us will satisfy (sex, money, power, etc.) instead of what the One who made us knows will fill our empty spaces (a relationship with Him through his son Jesus).
Why are lies so much easier to believe than the truth? It's baffling. Especially when you consider how much heartache these wrong decisions cause. The answer is found right out in the open, in the best-selling book of all time, but, strangely it is not understood by many who read it. Truth is foolishness to those who do not have the Spirit of God within them.
How does one get this not-so-secret "secret decoder ring" of spiritual mysteries?
By humbling ourselves-- something increasingly foreign to American popular culture. The act of accepting that we are sinners, acknowledging our need for a savior, and believing in Jesus' death and resurrection as full payment for our debt goes against the popular idea that we, ourselves, are #1 and able to do all things on our own. Our independant spirit, while great for starting a business, is horrible for our positions in eternity. We must not fail to give credit where it is due. Everything we have is a gift-- an endowment by our creator.
I admit, I ran the marathon of worldly 'happiness' for most of my life. I was too proud and too smart for "that religious stuff" and the small amounts of instant gratification I was getting were just enough to get me by. I believed that if I just got a little MORE of it... THEN... I would be happy. It was all about what I did (not, what Christ had already done), and the fact that I wasn't happy, was, in my mind, due to my not trying hard enough.
“God…gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).
Now that my eyes have been opened and the mystery has been unveiled, I see the beautiful Truth surrounding me. The things I had been chasing suddenly appeared as the empty lies they are and were no longer appealing. I now happily pursue the desires of God's heart for me.
Now THAT is the Happiness that George and Thomas were talking about.
As Jonathan Edwards wrote, “The pleasures of humility are really the most refined, inward, and exquisite delights in the world.”
As for the photos and the millions of tourists:
While I did my best to keep the photos "stranger free", there were so many people out there it was almost impossible. However, a few of the folks who ended up in my pictures were actually kind of funny. I liked this one of "Mr. Business Man".
He's such a multi-tasker, don't you think? He can capture the beauty of nature and the art of the deal at the same time.
And then there was this kid below in the bright orange shirt. He was having such a time. So completely in his own world. He kept running in and out of the shot, completely oblivious. Uncontrollable happiness. I was thankful to have captured some of his joy in this photograph.
So, there you have it.
No, I haven't forgotten my beloved bluebonnets. They still inspire.
I do, however, have a new fondness in my heart for cherry season. The way I figure it, any time spent being thankful for and appreciating the beautiful gifts of flowers my Father sends me is a good thing. Besides, there can never be too much praise for an infinite God.
I can't wait to see what's next!