If you know me it will come as no surprise that I do not love living in a tropical climate - and I live in Hawaii. How I ended up here is an interesting tale, but one for a different day. :) I dislike being sticky and hot, and having my hair turn into something that resembles an un-brushed Old English Sheepdog (it took me while to figure out a similarity to the mess of my hair - but having raised a sheepdog I think it is fitting) I miss having Northwest fruits almost daily, I only like 2 tropical fruits that I have tried so far. I would not go as far as to say I hate living in Hawaii - but it just is not where I hope to live for the rest of my life. When people ask me how I like living in Hawaii I usually say that it is a fun adventure for this season of our lives. And that is true. There are lots of fun bits to living here - the most fun being that I get to have my husband be my top priority and all the time we get just the two of us. But still, Hawaii is just not my dream location.
But tonight - oh tonight I had an experience that changed my view of this place.
It happened after a very long day with work: as we drove up our mountain (we live on one of Hawaii's many volcanoes) the rain increased. We then were in the middle of thick cloud and heavy rain, and we actually drove past the cloud (we live at 3,000 feet) and pulled into our driveway. Because it was still raining, my sweet Farmer Boy dropped me off at the door (isn't he the best?!) and went to park our car. I nearly did the splits slipping on the driveway - but eventually I gracefully managed to get onto the deck.
And then IT hit me.
The most enchanting fragrance I had ever experienced. It was pitch black, heavy and hurried raindrops dancing and singing on the tin roof, and I was frozen in stunned breathlessness.
Night-blooming jasmine: a powerfully fragrant, yet gentle as old fashioned lace floral scent rolling through the rain-drenched night air. And I was transfixed and amazed. Immediately I was in love: deep, abiding love - the kind that knows that years from now, if I catch the tiniest breeze of night-blooming Jasmine I will return to this little home my Love and I have made in this new and adventurous place.
I was not in love with the scent as much as I was enthralled by the One who made it. The glorious freshness of this night, the frog chorus raising and competing with the raindrops dancing on the roof, the clouds of mist ushering me into our home, the welcome feeling and being home after a long day. Gratitude for all He is and does.
This moment was short but powerful at a time when I needed it. This summer has been the most difficult and painful time of our life. Dreams we dreamed, gone in a moment. Futures we thought would be ours changed forever, door after door slammed in our faces, hurt too deep for words or tears, questions of if ever... I needed this reminder today. It has been challenging this year - so challenging. And yet - just like the rain and nighttime usher in the beauty of the night-blooming Jasmine, so sometimes the hard parts of our life usher in moments of beauty. Or maybe they just open up our eyes to see the beauty that was there all along. This life is messy, and crazy, and draining. But it is also unspeakably glorious, and creative, and life-giving.
Part of the beauty that struck me was that I never get to enjoy that enthralling fragrance during the sun-filled days. It is only in the darkness of night that the true beauty of this heavenly flower is enjoyed. Isn't life like that? During the days of happiness and sun-soaked life, we sometimes miss out on exquisite beauty that only come from times that may seem dark and stormy. It's a lesson I have seen over and over again, illustrated through nature in little and enormous ways. I know it's something God wants me to remember always. May I be faithful to remember this light-bringing truth in the times that are dark.
I have the blessed choice to allow the hurt of today to bring beauty into my tomorrow.
And I choose to open up and allow the beauty to sweep in where the ashes are. I choose to breath deep of the fragrance of God's grace and goodness in this moment - because it's always there if we have eyes to see.
I'm so thankful for the night-blooming Jasmine, and the picture of beauty in unexpected places.