God in the beauty of the moment

(Photo by Camilla Bundgaard, from Unsplash.com, under Creative Commons zero)
(Photo by Camilla Bundgaard, from Unsplash.com, under Creative Commons zero)

by Mary Ann McGivern

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In spring, everything in the garden is promise. It's a season of hope against all the disasters that can visit one's plants, from drought and blight to marauding squirrels and locusts. But in my front yard, these first days of summer, all the promise is fulfilled.

Two dozen different kinds of daylilies cascade down the steep terrace. Yellow and purple cone flowers, bee balm and hyssop stand root to root with the daylilies, and along the stair railing tree lilies waft their powerful scent down the block. For about three weeks, our front garden is downright gaudy with color.

The garden always stops me by surprise. I'm the one that dug it, scrounged the plants, divided them, replaced failing species like lavender with red hot poker and coreopsis and oregano to fill the gaps. But the power of these plants to grow and bloom just knocks me out.

C.S. Lewis wrote Surprised by Joy about transcendent experiences of God. I've had a couple of those numinous moments and I grant that the joy my garden surprises me with is more, say, earthy. But nonetheless it lifts my heart to God. And it's not a few moments spread across a lifetime but dozens of moments a day when I catch my breath and stand still, transfixed by the beauty of the moment.

Each flower deserves attention, a small encapsulation of the beauty of the universe. Each passing bee and butterfly delights me. I have a couple of milkweed plants and asters and goldenrod to support the monarch migration this fall -- if they pass this way. The garden holds more promise for midsummer as well as autumn. But these days every time I open my front door I'm reminded that the present moment is what I have and it is filled with joy if only I pay attention.

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