There are few instances in life that leave me speechless. Our society has morphed into a series of antics, people attempting anything to extend 15 minutes of fame with meaningless action for clicks, likes and the like. One has to be intentional to seek and find authentic beauty. About eight years ago, my mother in law gifted me with some eight o’clocks. They are a stunning yellow flower that opens at 8ish in the evening and closes at 8ish the following morning. Before the flower opens, it shakes a bit, signaling preparation and then it unfolds. As the night solidifies its existence, the flower opens up all the more. Further, there is an adoring fragrance that accompanies the petals that fill the night air. For years as the eight o’clocks made their return to our home, I stood outside watching the spectacle in our front yard. One after the other, the flowers burst wide open for all the neighborhood and onlookers to view. We stood in awe, anticipating the next rumble. I don’t know the science behind all the flowers went through to come forth as pure gold, but I was certainly glad to witness their “coming out party,” night after night.
Last summer, the eight o’clocks did not emerge. They usually arrive in late May, dance nightly for about 4-5 weeks and lie dormant until the next summer. Other flowers in the yard participated in our front yard performance. The show went on, but without the star of the production. I was sad. Not only because of the absence of my favorite summer phenomenon, but also deeply saddened by several trials I was navigating. I’ve always believed in the connection and alignment between spirit and nature. Without question, I assumed I’d willed the beauty away. I had little capacity to hold it; limited space to receive it and limped love to appreciate it. To be sure, all around me, it felt as though everyone else was bursting into newness like the eight o’clocks, while I desperately hoped for just a little shimmy. Sadness is not a choice but willing oneself from a saddened state is. What was my remedy? An intersection of worship and therapy. Worship allowed me to remain connected to the vine, the true vine (John 15:1-2), while therapy provided a tangible connection on earth. And now, even as therapy has concluded (open door for maintenance), worship remains a critical component of my daily regimen. I look forward to my encounters and experiences with God. I wait on Him. I look for His beauty. I anticipate Him opening up, fuller than the time before. I long for His fragrance. And when He shakes things up in my life, I can count that something magical is coming forth. Worship brought me forth. Let me be clear, I’ve always been a worshipper, but worshipping from the lowest state one can imagine oneself creates a completely different commitment and sustainability. Worship manifested into wellness.
In May, the eight o’clocks returned. After a year’s sabbatical, they showed up in all their glory. I cried tears of joy, reminding me that we serve a God of resurrection. In the words of J.J. Hairston, “He’s the God of miracles, signs and wonders.” It’s now September, and the eight o’clocks are still opening nightly, extending their residency for about two months and counting. They’ve never lasted so long. They’ve been plenteous. They’re more beautiful than I can remember. Further, they are still living on a vine that appears brown and unresponsive. What powerful imagery and an equally powerful message that God sent forth to His daughter, and you. There remains life on the vine, even amidst death. It may not be visible, and I would further suggest, even comprehensible, but keep on worshipping. Keep looking for God to show up. Stand still awaiting His salvation. Be open to His shaking, propelling you to new realms and new dimensions in Him. There remains life on the vine. This has left me speechless, with the exception of a “Hallelujah.”