Monday, April 7, 2008

Life's Stubborn Beauty

I live in a concrete jungle. Our apartment is on the 9th floor of a 15 story building. I pass through a 9 story building every day on my way to my office, which is 5 stories up. All around Cheonan, 15-20 story apartment buildings dominate the landscape, blotting out the beautiful mountains which hide behind the concrete curtains.

There are a few strips of grass here and there, usually dotted with trees. We were delighted a few years ago when the city built a beautiful little park a block from our apartment. This is the lone substantial patch of green in our neighborhood. (The green is magnified by the green colored track and the green Astroturf soccer field, which together make up almost 50% of the park.)

However, concrete makes up the bulk of the scenery, most places where I go.

This spring, like most springs, I am wonderfully surprised by the stubborn beauty of life. After a long winter, the trees bud with leaves and flowers. The green of grass slowly takes over the dull browns of winter. I passed a bush today that was full of verdant leaves, and I wondered when it started budding. I pass it every day, but I hadn't noticed a single leaf before.

What strikes me the most, though, are the flowers that emerge, unplanted and untended in the most unlikely of places. In a small strip of grass, no more than 6 feet wide between our apartment and the sidewalk, beautiful, rich violet flowers have poked out, sort of hugging the ground on their short, weed-like stems. You all most have to look twice to notice that they are really flowers and not some child's discarded toys. But there they are, with all their beautiful color, hugging the earth like a child holding her mother's leg in the elevator.

Six feet lower, where the retaining wall and the sidewalk meet, life has shown itself to be even more unrelenting in its expression of beauty. Between the smallest crack of open space, dandelions have reared their golden heads. Shining with a yellow beacon, they shout to the world that beauty can be found in the most unlikely of places.

Beauty can be suppressed, but it cannot be snuffed out. God has made our world too relentlessly life inducing, too persistently beautiful. We cover the fertile earth with our bunkers and businesses, but the earth will not let us forget it. It conquers still with a shy purple flower here and a bold golden flower there, mistakenly thought by the unlistening eye to be weeds.
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