For those of you who didn’t travel this holiday weekend – good for you!
I took my mother and brother to meet with family in Blowing Rock on Saturday, and the traffic was something else altogether. It took us thirty minutes to drive through Elk Park because we found ourselves behind the town parade. For those of you who have never been to Elk Park, I will indicate the size to you by noting that we might have passed all of twenty people lined up to watch the said parade. Apparently, everyone else in town was in the parade, and that’s why it took them thirty minutes to do it. Then we tried to take our usual route over Grandfather Mountain, but had to turn back because there were about fifty cars (and I’m not kidding) lined up outside the entrance gates to the park.
Needless to say, I was a bit chuffed by the time we and the traffic (finally) moseyed into downtown Blowing Rock and set about to find a parking space. For those of you who think I should have just stayed home, I agree with you. However, when one is meeting family, one does not always have the luxury of choosing the appointed day. One should, however, try to avoid showing up in a bad mood. I have to say that I was finding that hard to do.
That was when I saw something that delighted me. Keep in mind that I am easily amused.
Isn’t he beautiful? I think he decided to drop in for a photo shoot. I got several pictures before he flew away.
I wish I could think of something more profound to say than, “Look at that symmetry!” On the other hand, perhaps we are never more profound than when we simply pause to admire.
The day offered me another gift in the form of the rhododendron which are in full bloom in the mountains. I do not know what dreary and unpoetic soul named them “rhododendron” (one of the ugliest words in the botanical lexicon), but they don’t deserve it. Rhododendron grow in shady places, out of the sunlight. They are hardy shrubs that thrive in the cooler weather of the mountains, and when they are not in bloom, they appear to be nothing more than tough, scrubby bushes. Then summer comes, and they produce a blossom that is truly a lady among flowers.
It is hard to imagine how a shrub can grow such tough leaves and such delicate blooms at the same time, but here is another angle.
We all know that God grows some of his finest people in out of the way places and unpromising circumstances. My mother is one of those people. You cannot imagine more barren soil than what her childhood seemed to offer. But Jesus himself was a “tender root out of a dry ground” (Isaiah 53). Like rhododendron in the winter, His appearance had no particular beauty, no distinguishing loveliness to set Him apart from the other people He mingled with on a daily basis. Yet those who measured His quality by the roughness of His exterior missed the incomparable glory of His godhead that those closest to Him were privileged to see. His disciples saw the dead raised and the lame dance and the deaf hear and the blind see, and three of them saw Christ in his heavenly glory, shining like the sun.
All this we know from Scripture, but we forget over and over again to apply it to the reality of our lives. We are angry at the traffic, frustrated with our loved ones, tired of the humid weather, weary at work, and a hundred other things. Yet, God continually shines through His creation with an unspeakable beauty, and He reminds us that it was not beneath Him to come and share the ordinariness of our lives. Indeed, He breathes upon that ordinariness, and it blossoms into “joy unspeakable and full of glory.”