Today is one of those West Texas days that makes me grit my teeth… Mostly because I’m getting grit in my teeth.
If you didn’t know better, it might look foggy outside. But it’s not a fine mist hanging in the air; it’s a fine dust. Hot, windy and dry… Days like this blow trash and dirt around and really do not show the best side of our community. Days like this make most of us wonder how we ended up living here. Down deep I know days like this can happen anywhere and in any climate. Maybe it’s too much rain. Too much snow. It’s just too much.
There’s this field near my house and we sometimes walk past it in the evenings. Usually when I look out at it, I’m astonished and disgusted by the trash accumulated in the thorny mesquite bushes. Frankly it looks like an empty field in a developing nation where city trash pickup isn’t a thing. There’s a construction site just down the way, and it seems like that pesky West Texas wind blows down most of their packing materials to this field, where they just sit until someone decides to make it their problem and clean it up. (Incidentally, I often think a trash bag flying from a mesquite branch could be an accurate — though unflattering — West Texas flag.)
But last week I found myself astonished for a different reason. I don’t know what happened, really. The trash was still there. But we were walking more slowly and I was staring at my feet and I kept finding myself utterly astonished at the beauty in that field. Much of Texas is known for her springtime wildflowers; fields of picturesque bluebonnets with longhorns grazing in the background. Most of the time, the cynical side of me bubbles up and bemoans the fact that this is not that part of Texas.
I’m in the part of Texas with fields of trash caught in the mesquite thorns. (Sigh.)
But it turns out I just wasn’t paying attention. Because I’m also in the part of Texas with fields of scrubby wildflowers — persistent in their commitment to grow in inhospitable places. Purple and coral and the sunniest yellow you could ever imagine. Shades of red and orange like the sunsets that paint our skies. I’m in the part of Texas where a little bit of water makes a dead land spring to life. I’m in the part of Texas where conditions aren’t ripe for lush vegetation; but they are perfectly suited for stubbornly hopeful flowers.
I’m in the part of Texas where the terrain looks a lot like my heart.
I took my girls down to the field the next day and we picked flowers and exclaimed at the extraordinary beauty of it all and now my house smells like weeds. But I know it really smells like sight-turned-right.
Because maybe this is what a miracle looks like. It’s looking past the refuse and the broken glass and the things that mar the beautiful view; all the things that feel like “too much.” It’s looking closely at what we think is dreadfully ugly and even a little shameful. And it’s seeing the beauty that’s been there all along. Always popping up in unexpected places.