Today was my first full day at an artist’s colony in southwest France, and it was filled to overflowing with wondrous and amazing sights. My camera got quite a workout with the Canal du Midi a stone’s throw away, the exhibition of doors painted by mentally-handicapped adults in the courtyard, pilgrims passing by my window on their way to Santiago de Compestela in Spain, a visit to two artists’ studios, and a leisurely stroll exploring the little medieval village here. [It is billed as “One of France’s 100 Most Beautiful Villages” which I was convinced was marketing hyperbole until I walked through it.]
Then, walking down one of the utterly quaint lanes of the village, I stopped to take a picture of an old vine-covered wooden door and bell.
That was beautiful enough, but then I saw a flower on the vine that just took my breath away: a multi-colored, multi-textured, multi-level creation.
Count the colors
It was named Passion Flower by Spanish Christians in the 15th century who came up with symbolic meaning for the various parts, connected to the crucifixion of Jesus. [For starters, the radial filaments suggest the crown of thorns.]
The vine also produces Passion Fruit but it must be past the season because I didn’t see any fruit. There were also only two flowers in bloom on the entire vine, though there were plenty of shriveled blossoms and a handful of new ones. They didn’t look remarkable at all, and if someone had come along and plucked the two flowers off, I would have never known the beauty given by this lowly, common-looking vine.
I know there have been times when I’ve encountered a person and not realized the gifts and richness of their life. Maybe they were at the end of one season or the beginning of another. Maybe all their blooms were picked off. They appeared like an ordinary vine, and I passed by without paying attention to them. Jesus, however, was constantly treating people based on the spectacular potential he knew was in them: Zaccheus, the woman caught in adultery, the demon-possessed man, Lazarus, Peter, Paul. Each one of them displayed how God can produce amazing flowers from common vines. I want to become more like Jesus this way, to see the people in my life through the eyes of faith, confident in the power and brilliance of the Master Artist at work in them.