STARGAZERS

I sit here and enjoy the bouquet of Stargazer Lilies my wonderful daughter-in-law brought over. As I marvel at their unusual beauty, I can’t help but draw a comparison between these flowers and the life of a man (or woman). Both are here for the same reason–to please God–and only for a brief cosmic moment in time.

I see the long, woody stems standing tall and strong in the vase, leaves of the same verdant green sprouting proudly along the length. Not wide but not narrow, longish but not inordinately so, each leaf sports a seam to mark its center as it tapers to a point at the tip. The leaves reach skyward as though saluting the blooms balanced at the top.

There on the heights, the buds remain tightly closed against intrusion. The underside of each petal is exposed to the world, yet they stand firm and guard their secrets. The buds are also ribbed with a central seam, a pale greenish ridge that blends outward into delicate pink and rose, and eventually to purest white at the edges. What is happening inside that chamber?

Time is a great revealer of secrets, so I study the arrangement every day to see what will be revealed. Slowly, ever so slowly the buds loosen and relax their hug, though it will take days more before their mysteries are unveiled.

Little by little the petals release until one morning I awoke to find them standing wide open as though embracing life. The petals of the tight have opened, each one curling backward, almost contorting in an effort to lift the sheltered heart to the sky. The tips of each petal curl under gracefully. From the center of the flower rises a family of stalks, the central one climbing higher than the other six, always six. This father frond stretches tall and dark green, and sports a rounded skull that seems almost “tri-circular” – as though three spheres have been slightly offset in an equidistant arrangement to form a scalloped pattern. The other six tendrils, all pale green and shorter by a third, rise high as well, but the weight of fuzzy crowns forces them to droop outward ever so slightly in elegant arches. Though roughly the size and shape of a crunchy Chinese noodle, the furred heads boast a rusty orange color with ends that also turn softly under. They do not appear crunchy.

The fully opened blooms emit a heady fragrance, a powerful aroma, almost cloying yet not unpleasant. As time passes and the flowers begin to wane, their scent diminishes slightly. The already deep rose color deepens to purple. The outer edges take on a patina of age and the tips begin to sag, the curl relaxing. The dark center stripe grows more pronounced, as do the multitude of freckles that dot the rosy face of the petals between the ivory edges and the central rib. Beauty remains, but time is a great thief.

The leaves succumb too. Smears of yellow and brown creep in and the verdant green is diluted. The petals’ edges darken as the blight of old age creeps in; decay in motion. The furry crowns of the stalk family begin to fall, shedding fuzzy tears to adorn the petals below. As the inevitable approaches, the blooms wrinkle and wither. Their outer edges, once a pristine white and then a delicate ivory, turns to dark, brittle parchment in the end, leaving a dry husk behind. One by one, the stalks lose their grasp and fall. The petals drop. Like sand through the hourglass, they succumb to gravity’s melody. A season has passed. A life has served its time. The joy of its existence is treasured. Time is a great truth.

Just as you are born into infancy, so too will you pass into childhood, endure those abominable teenage years, and eagerly embark upon adulthood. Will you raise your hands high in praise? Will you reveal your inner beauty and allow it to shine forth? Will you age with grace and share the treasures of your existence? Will your aroma be a pleasing fragrance? Will your memory be treasured?

Life is change

Time is a great healer.

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