Flower in the Desert

One day a tender blade pushed up through the desert crust. The wind threw pebbles and dust at it to cover it again. The sun tried to bake it out of existence. The blade persisted and became two blades, then three leaves and a stem. At night, while the moon was high and the air cold, tiny droplets of water would gather on the leaves. In the twilight of morning, the droplets of water would run down the stem and into the ground and refresh the roots. Eventually, a bud formed which, after a few more days, unveiled a golden flower with radiating petals. The blossom seemed to mirror the very sun that sought to scorch it.

Invisibly, the roots of the golden flower grew deeper; gathering all of the moisture it could from the surrounding soil. Other creatures began to take notice.  A caterpillar wove a chrysalis on the underside of one of the leaves.  A bee, blown off course by a thunderstorm, found the flower and exchanged pollen for nectar. The sun and the wind continued their assault, but the night brought coolness and water.  One night, when the moon was full, a coyote wandered by and sniffed at the flower.  The scent was sweet and foreign to her nose. Hunger conquered curiosity so the coyote went on her way in search of supper.

The next morning a man walked by.  His sights were set on capturing a high desert sunrise. Instead, he turned his camera on the flower. He wondered as he captured the flower’s precarious existence how it came to grow there and what kept it going.  He was tempted to move it to a more appropriate climate but feared that it may not survive the trip.  How like man, the photographer pondered, each life a miracle in the desert of the world. Alone yet not alone, seemingly accidental yet with purpose. Looking up, the man saw that he blew his chance for a sunrise picture. He wasn’t sorry about missing the opportunity or mad at the flower for distracting him. Instead, he shared some of his water with the flower, packed up his gear, and moved on.

The days passed without much change until the morning the chrysalis began to open.  With shaking and trembling the butterfly pulled itself from its chamber and fell to the desert floor. After righting itself it slowly waved its bright blue wings. Once dry it fluttered up to the flower’s golden blossom, gave a quick flap and flew off. The timing of the butterfly’s escape and the final day of the flower were coincidentally the same.  It was almost as if guarding the chrysalis was its purpose, and now that was finished. The flower lost pedals and dropped leaves until, falling to the desert floor, it dried up and succumbed to the dust.

While the days of the misplaced golden flower was over, its life and its legacy continued.  The next year the photographer returned and found a small patch of golden flowers.  Year after year he would visit and marvel as the flowers covered more and more of the desert floor. How like God he thought, to use one simple bit of creation to change desolation into a place of thriving, beautiful, life. To bring hope to a dry and hopeless desert.

Dale Heinold
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