I’m not saying I was actually lost… but if I was, what I found there was worth it. What I caught out of the corner of my eye while looking for another way was worth my foot hard on the brakes. What I almost missed; what the sun shone onto as a spotlight and what the gray alleyway tried to hide, was growing where no human had sown.
The rest of Tolkien’s thought:
We live in West Michigan where summertime shows off in midwest neighborhoods of neatly trimmed lawns and colored blooms around borders and under windows. The beauty of it all is wonderfully conspicuous and a lovely reward for the caretaker and onlooker alike. Even more conspicuous is the “wildness;” the space. Lots of it – rolling and meandering, meadow and farm, woods, sand dunes and lakes and mile upon mile as far as far can go of trees that swoon under ever-billowed sky.
And… there are wildflowers. Everywhere.
Most females know the fashion directive: after you’ve gotten dressed take off one piece of jewelry. Apparently a lady would never want to appear over-bangled or too jing-jangled, but I’m glad to say that God doesn’t look to be into the minimalist approach to accessorizing when it comes to the landscape. His warmth and whimsy extend to humanity through the display of what is a somewhat lavish immodesty; an extravagant embellishment of earth’s real estate. He piled on the jewelry when it came to creation.
That day, behind a local coffee shop and small-town suburban version of a strip-mall, was what could have been a view from the yellow-brick road on the way to the Emerald City. A small meadow, colors too beautiful for words, standing as royalty but carefree as a child, stopped me cold and dropped my jaw. There was nothing else but a dead-end street, a few Monopoly-style houses in the near distance, and cement. Where none but the lost, or, heh-hem, wandering would stumble was a show for the eyes and a symphony for the soul. This is a particular beauty that only grows where nobody sees and is perhaps even more beautiful because it is set against the backdrop of the painfully common day-to-day-ness and oftentimes severe ambiguity of life and death.
My Friend, it is true that death can make “lost and wandering” the rule for the grieving saint, but “Christ in you, the hope of glory”* is the believer’s reality, and says that your beauty is growing where nobody sees; at least not yet. But it is, nonetheless… there and growing. The work of its toil must be done behind the facades of life and alongside the gray where other aching saints and sinners feel lost and wandering too. They will see your beauty where nobody else sees because they walk where you walk, and the seed that is sown when you are spent will gently cling to their pain and spread alongside their journey to bloom and flourish when the season comes.
And then… your beauty will shine as if under a spotlight and others will put their foot hard on the brakes too just to gaze at the glory that no human could have possibly sown: “where a light from the shadows shall spring.”
“For the vision is for an appointed time; It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; For it will certainly come, it will not delay.” (Hab. 2:3 NASB)
“And the Lord will continually guide you, And satisfy your desire in scorched places, And give strength to your bones; And you will be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.” (Isaiah 58:11 NASB)
“Consider how the wildflowers grow: they don’t labor or spin thread. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these!” (Luke 12:27 HCSB)