September 13, 2021
This past week while riding my bike – yep, another cycling epiphany! – I spied a bit of unexpected beauty and persevering joy.
Along the edge of the bike path, in a huge area of overgrowth and unruly weeds, a single morning glory raised its delicate blossom to meet the sun.
Humbly, silently, across the dark ground, through the muck and mire, the morning glory’s tendrils had made their way to an opening in the weedy overgrowth and unfurled its lovely white petals as the sun was coming into its own.
I spied the blossom as I pushed my way up a particularly steep hill during my 27-mile ride, and I smiled. Actually, I laughed out loud!
I needed some joy that morning – some encouragement to persevere – and was grateful to catch sight of that beauty rising to meet the day.
Then I began to think…what’s the lesson to be had here….?
Call me crazy, but I believe there are lessons to be found in everything, if we are just open to the possibilities. That morning glory’s lesson was about rising above the weeds!
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Times have been particularly challenging for all of us lately; more challenging for some than for others. Lots of muck and mire weighs us down. Lots of weeds try to choke us out.
It’s been that way for a while.
Perhaps you have been watching some of the documentaries this past week: the muck and mire of the political power grabs in the weeks leading up to 9/11, as well as the animus toward our nation which catalyzed the devastating actions of the day.
And then the day itself. The weeds – the dark muck and mire in which those weeds grew – seemed to overwhelm and crush us.
Yet, in the midst of it all, glory won out.
As the darkness slowly gave way to the dawn in the days to come, God’s glory was revealed in the midst of the destruction of the weeds – and the tendrils of life, renewal and hope were given space to reach up and bloom once more.
Maybe you saw it, too.
From the destruction, emerged the Ground Zero Cross – a sign of hope in the midst of incomprehensible tragedy for so many.
So many – even non-believers – mentioned God as the genesis of their light and that cross became a sign of hope, an inner voice that urged them to live.
From the survivors in New York and D.C., there were stories of survivors and first responders: some overwhelmed by darkness and hopelessness were rescued from sure death to new life; others trapped in the rubble saw beams of light compelling them to rise from the weeds of destruction and make their way toward that light; countless others sacrificed their lives for complete strangers.
Families of those on Flight 63 received phone calls of love and choices made to overcome the choking weeds of hate in order to see beyond themselves and choose to sacrifice self in order to impact the future for good.
Tendrils of humanity making their way to the light of new beginnings even in the midst of the muck and mire of ‘certain’ death and unimaginable sorrow.
God’s glory unfolding in the midst of deadliest of weeds!
In the immediate weeks following the horror of that day, all of us were changed – even those of us on the periphery – as we rose up from the weeds of fear and despair, reaching for the light of hope and life so that life might once again bloom gloriously!
People seemed to be less apt to judge and more prone to ‘love thy neighbor’ –no longer focused on themselves but on the good of all as we seemed to value and love each other more authentically. The ‘united’ in United States began to mean something again.
But, as we all know, these behaviors only lasted for a while.
Then, much as the fragile morning glory, that fades like the grass, the weeds of anger and entitlement, the muck and mire of self-righteousness and oppression began to overwhelm us again….so devastating that the transforming kindness that rose from the weeds of tragedy was so fleeting!
Or was it?
Many commentators this past week seem to think so. They nostalgically talked about the grace-filled behaviors of 9/11/2001 as though there is no hope of such behaviors returning, but I don’t buy it!
One thing about morning glories is that their tendrils silently and tenaciously spread and grow, to rise from the weeds again and again and multiply in surprising ways, bringing joy when we least expect it.
I believe the same is true of us.
We humans are made to reflect God’s glory.
We are called to be the tendrils of God’s love and compassion, grace and mercy, tenaciously working our way through the muck and mire of life: through the self-promotion, self-righteous ego-centricity, political radicalization, tribalization of culture, and demonization of science that impacts our personal convenience.
We know in our hearts that these conditions are soul-sucking and life destroying. We know the muck and mire of mean-spiritedness and self-promotion will choke us and kill our future.
We know in our hearts that it is not ok to let others suffer and die just so we can brazenly claim ‘we stood our ground.’
It is not ok – and never has been ok.
Why do we know? Because the seeds of God’s love are sown in our hearts through Christ and His teachings.
Such seeds continue to grow and develop as the tendrils of our faith take hold and spread – humbly, tenacious, into the entire world for the good of the world and the glory of God. Think Great Commission here! Matthew 28:19-20
If we truly follow Christ, we will humbly sacrifice the muck and mire of our personal entitlements for the greater good of all humankind.
If we truly follow Christ, we will rise above the weeds of ego and reflect God’s glory through our compassion and servants’ hearts for the benefit of all others – no exceptions.
I have hope that we can rise up from the muck and the mire of what has been the prevailing experience of recent years and reflect the glory of God through the light of God’s Son and share the joy of God’s hope-filled future with those climbing the hills on life’s journey.
I know we can – because I know who and Whose we are!
Just a lesson from a morning glory. Such a wise little flower. Shouldn’t we be wiser still?
As Andra Day would sing it, it’s time to ‘Rise Up!’ All for the glory of God!
And to God be the glory! AMEN.