It really is

A red Bromeliad at the U.S. Botanic Garden, Washington, DC, April 2014

A red bromeliad at the U.S. Botanic Garden, Washington, DC, April 2014

“Life is like a flower. You don’t realize how beautiful it really is until you take a closer look.” — Ash Sweeney

I wasn’t able to find out anything much about Ash Sweeney other than endless web pages citing quotes from him (or her) such as this one.  Perhaps Sweeney is a robot, or a pen name, or an urban legend.  But truth can be found in the most unlikely places, and this quote appeals to me as one who loves both flowers and life more than some people seem to understand.

The analogy is simple, but it holds up in many respects.  How often do we rush past a single flower, impressed only by a display of them in masses?  How many tiny wildflowers do we disregard every day, simply because they are generally not considered valuable?  Are we suitably amazed at the variety of shapes, colors and sizes to be found and enjoyed? Do we realize how much it might elevate our moods if we paused to appreciate at least one or two live flowers each day? Are flowers more beautiful individually, or when combined into a gorgeous bouquet?  Or is each presentation equally beautiful in its own way?

Life really is stunningly beautiful.  That’s not to say it’s always easy, pretty, appealing, refreshing or even profound, though it is all of those things at various times, to varying degrees.  Very few among us willingly part with the enormous gift of time on this planet that we are allowed to spend, to at least some degree, as we choose.  No matter how hard it gets (and for far too many, it’s harder than we can imagine) the human spirit still yearns to survive here as long as possible.

Some believe this life is all there is, and some of us– count me in this group– believe it’s only a passage to another, more eternal destination.  But I’ve noticed that folks in both groups want to extend our time here on planet Earth as much as we can.  I think that’s an indication that the loveliness is always there, even when it is distorted by ugliness or hidden by apathy.

Look closely today, at a flower, and at life, and be blessed by an understanding of the beauty of both.

This post was first published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.


  1. mike c

    This flower- which is beautiful- reminds me of the Red ginger in Hawaii. Bromeliaads are sometimes overlooked, though there are many varieties. And of course for them as the Pointsetias -the color comes from the brachts or leafy parts. I miss Hawaii. It’s been a while. My friend Phyllis who lives in Aiea is now retired and living in her family home there. Her dad taught at UH there till the 80’s.

    • Mike, I agree with you about the Bromeliads. I love them! I don’t really miss Hawaii in most ways, but then again, we had three full years there and I got my graduate degree there, so we were able to make the most of it. Aiea is a lovely place to live, with gorgeous valley views and somewhat removed from the bustle of Honolulu. Though I imagine that has changed somewhat in the nearly 30 years since we lived there.

  2. mike c

    It’s is hard to beat the presentation of a single rose.

    • Yes, I sometimes think roses– and most of the more intricate flowers — are more easily appreciated in just one or two blooms. But grouping lots of different flowers together can be breathtaking, too.

      • mike c

        On my mini mission trip to Costa Rica we took a river cruise and could see many Bromeliads up in the tree limbs- In situ. They may grow in Florida – not sure. Our senior center garden here in Canton has a corner patch of white gingers which i used to love in Hawaii. Also the Night Cereus.
        Have you seen any of Adam Hamilton’s talk’s on U tube. Just watched his one on hope. Very good. He is controversial.

        • Hi Mike, my memory (backed up by a smidgeon of research) is that bromileads do grow in Florida. We lived in Hialeah during my toddler years, and I have dim memories of hearing my mother talk about them. I too love the Hawaiian Ginger flowers, but my favorites are the red ones. I have never heard of Adam Hamilton. In general I avoid YouTube. I’m old enough to be suspicious of massively popular leaders of megachurches, theologically speaking, because I always have the feeling that they are adapting Christian doctrine to please the world and gain followers, rather than being like Christ — who, after all, was crucified by the mob, and taught people (in several places in the New Testament) that people who followed him would be hated and persecuted by the world.

  3. mike c

    Y’all have Hollywood looks.

    • Are you referring to the thumbnail photos from our 20th anniversary? If so, thanks! I always hated that photo — my hair did not look as full and pretty as it often did– but Jeff definitely had Hollywood looks. In fact, the Chaplain who spoke at Arlington as part of Jeff’s funeral had never met him — it was just protocol for the full military honors funeral, and we did have two of Jeff’s colleagues deliver the primary messages. When he saw Jeff’s photo on the funeral program, he said “Wow. He was movie-star handsome.” I always agreed.

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