In an article in the June 2013 issue of Southern Living magazine, writer Allison Glock talks about her
great-grandfathers’ gardens, which were as different as the men themselves. One
man’s garden was formal. The other’s was wild and free. Yet, each one was
filled with beauty.
“In both houses,” Allison says, “there were jars of fresh
flowers, blooms that reminded them that life could be beautiful, that they
could make it so” (p. 78, “Portrait in Green”).
As I reflected on her words, I recalled the times I’ve
visited (and photographed!) the garden of a humble, gentle-spirited man who
lives in a small house. Like Allison’s great-grandfathers, this man has also
surrounded himself with beauty.
He has planted flowers almost everywhere in his small yard.
Other than a grassy pathway, which runs alongside his house and leads to his
“sitting area” and to his small vegetable garden near the back fence, almost
every available inch of his yard is ablaze with color.
In order to add a splash of color to the part of the yard
that is more utilitarian than beautiful, he has hung a sunflower flag on a tree
near a table covered with an assortment of unfilled flower pots.
He is happy to share the beauty of his garden with others.
For example, when children in his neighborhood ask to be allowed to help him
plant and weed and water, he teaches them to care for the plants and to
appreciate their beauty, as he does.
Like Allison’s great-grandfathers, he believes life can be
beautiful and that people can make it so.
They’re right, aren’t they? We can—and do—cultivate beauty
in all kinds of spaces, whether in huge formal gardens surrounding a mansion or
in limited space alongside a small house.
We also create beauty in all kinds of ways, not just in
flower gardens. Consider: the chef who makes each entrée a work of art…the
fashion designer who adds detail to a garment to make it uniquely beautiful…an
interior designer who knows just what to put where in order to create a
stunningly beautiful room.
Even folks who don’t get paid to create beauty do it
instinctively. Take, for example, the person who creates beauty by artfully
arranging assorted, chopped, colorful veggies…the man who
washes and waxes his car until it looks brand new...the child who gathers a
handful of wild flowers to present to her mother... the toddler who draws on a
wall with a crayon…
Because we humans have an innate longing for beauty, we
either find it—or create it!
Poets and writers use words to paint pictures for us to
enjoy; photographers and artists create visual feasts. Even folks who don’t
consider themselves artistic or creative, crave beauty and, thus, create it in
all kinds of places and with whatever materials are at hand.
Even when life is hard—especially when life is hard—we have
a need for beauty. We flank caskets with flowers to soften the harshness of
death. We place flowers and balloon bouquets around the room of those who are ill.
We dress in bright colors in order to lift our spirits.
Yes, life can be
beautiful. And we should make it so! In the process, let’s also take time to
thank our Father for the beauty He’s already provided for us, as Folliott S.
Pierpoint did when, in 1864, he penned these words:
Have you ever seen clearer shining than that which follows a shower? Then the sun transforms the rain-drops into gems, the flowers look up with fresher smiles and faces glittering from their refreshing bath, and the birds from among the dripping branches sing with notes more rapturous, because they have paused awhile. So, when the soul has been saturated with the rain of penitence, the clear shining of forgiving love makes the flowers of gladness blossom all around.
~From a sermon ("The Joy of the LORD, the Strength of His People") delivered by C. H. Spurgeon on the Lord's Day Morning, December 31, 1871, at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington