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Sweet Surprises

I bought a bunch of lilies at Sam’s the other day. They’re one of the cheapest thrills I know — $8.85 for ten stems is a price tag that I cannot ignore. Each time I am passing by the flower counter I stop, stand in contemplation and scrutinizing, making sure they’re strong and resilient where the heads attach to the stems. Then, upon deciding, I gather up the meant-to-be bundle of promising greenish buds. A lily (the right kind) can scent an entire room with a solitary blossom. It can stand on its own, no fluff of extra greenery necessary (although here they’re shown with fresh fern leaves), and when just a few of them begin to open in a vase together, their petals unfurl and their ruffled edges flirt with the onlooker like sweet little lasses in Sunday School dresses. When cared for properly, stems gently clipped and re-watered, they have been known to last (in my house at least) for upwards of two weeks. Tell me friends, what would keep us all from going straightaway to purchase that sort of long-lasting, heaven-scented luxury for eight dollars and some change? Tell me.

So I usually opt for the white Casablanca lilies. They are pure as I can imagine the beginning of this old world was. The white seems whiter than normal, and the scent is heady and nearly indescribable. Only God in his perfect design could dream up this scent. Come to think of it, there is nothing I can compare it to. That’s saying something. The more gaudy, magenta-speckled Stargazer lilies are a bit sweeter-smelling, although lovely in their own right. So when I chose this particular bunch, I looked for the absence of any color in the just-opening pods. Boy, I think I’m so smart. The surprise, here, came when the green and white petals began to gradually peel away from each other, turn themselves inside out, and reveal the dearest blush of pink and fresh centers of pale, lemony yellow.

I have been struck lately by such little sweet surprises. God, again in his perfect design, knows that he must speak to me in definite themes. So this is just one more gentle tug at my heart where he is calling me to notice the little stuff — needed kindnesses, good words, tomatoes from the vine still tasting of the sun, earnest touches, winks, generous friends, truly good and inspired music, the early morning’s warmth on my skin, real, deep, tear-inducing laughter. All of these things are vessels of love. It is carried so artfully to me. The stuff that I need but can’t see, it comes to me wearing the skin of sunset-colored lilies’ petals.

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