This is the flower of a night-blooming cereus, a type of cactus whose twisted tangle of spines is ordinarily nothing more than a spindly eyesore. She blooms only when temps soar to triple digits and the desert floor cracks open with thirst.
But, oh does she bloom.
Her fragrant, palm-sized flower is called Queen of the Night, a nod to the fact that she blooms only at night and sometimes only for a single night.
Why such a beautiful flower that so few get to see?
Maybe this one’s just for God – a glimpse of beauty that delights His senses. If we’re observant enough (or awake early enough), we get to hitch a ride on creation’s coattails. We get to glimpse an expression of God’s glory. Creation responds to its Creator. It just can’t help it.
This happened 2,000 years ago on a day we now call Palm Sunday, too. Jesus didn’t ride into Jerusalem on a royal chariot ornamented with gold and silver. He came humbly on a colt covered with cloaks. His disciples – who had seen him calm storms, heal the sick, and raise the dead – couldn’t help but respond. They praised the goodness of God. They called Him their King.
Jesus’s detractors wanted them to settle down. But Jesus knew they couldn’t be silent in the goodness of His presence. And even if they could be quiet, the stones would give him praise.
I don’t want to let a rock sing louder than me. I don’t want to let a flower bloom more beautifully than me when things are dark and inhospitable and hard.
These days are really stretching me. I know they’re stretching you, too. We’re all grappling with big questions like how will I make it, what am I living for, and how will this end? Frailty, regret, and fear are quick to meet us there. But so is perfect love.
Two thousand years ago, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a colt. Five days later He walked out carrying a cross. It’s the ugly place where His perfect love cast out fear. Once and for all. It is finished. Final word.
Maybe that’s why I’m thinking on this Palm Sunday about the Queen of the Night – something exquisite born from an ugly plant rooted in scorched earth in a season of unbearable heat. In the harshest of conditions, a queen opens up a remarkable offering to her King. And I think we can do that, too.