God’s Paintbrush at Work

I have mixed emotions about Facebook. But one feature I do enjoy is the occasional memories that pop up. These heartwarming reminders, more often than not, spark a laugh, prompt a smile, or, more likely, a shake of the head as I wonder — has it been that long?

This week’s Facebook memory is a picture posted in April of 2015 while I hiked the Arabia Mountain trail, part of the PATH Foundation network of off-road trails in and around Atlanta, Georgia. From 2011 through 2017, my good friend John and I would meet every Saturday morning at about 7:30 am for a four-mile hike. 

These weekly sojourns provided more than physical exercise. They offered meaningful conversation and brotherly encouragement that both of us needed. Our daughters were best friends, and our wives had been as well until I lost mine to cancer in 2011 and his suffered a lingering disability from a car accident. As two men who suffered loss, we found solace in sharing walks, conversations, and faith.

April of 2015 found us again on the paved trails around Arabia Mountain. After a week of storms and sensing a brief break in precipitation, we warily started the week’s walk with umbrellas firmly in hand and a watchful eye on the cloudy, still threatening skies.

We were in for a surprise.

The landscape along the trail is like nature’s time capsule in the middle of suburbia. Arabia Mountain Park is known for its rock outcroppings amidst the greenery natural to the area and is one of Metro Atlanta’s three monadnocks (an isolated hill or lone mountain that stands above the surrounding area) —  the other two being Panola Mountain and Stone Mountain. 

There are places along the trail so barren in appearance they resemble a moonscape, suggesting an environment too harsh for anything to grow. Evidence of quarrying from a century ago is still present. The lingering landscape scars hint at what was once a profitable stone-mining industry.

Yet, we soon discovered, this seemingly sterile rocky terrain was teeming with some rather unique plant life that had adapted to the mountain’s harsh environment. After thirty minutes of walking, we turned a corner and stopped. Instead of the usual desolate scene of a hardscrabble outcropping, we beheld a breath-taking, walk-stopping vista of red, as if God had taken his brush and stroked the granite canvas with touches of his favorite April red color.

John explained we were seeing Diamorpha, a plant native to the area that blooms only at certain times of the year, one of those times being April. These eye-catching red succulent leaves are found mostly in and around shallow pools or basins on rocky outcroppings such as those on Arabia Mountain. These plants are considered endangered, so I walked gingerly off the trail for a quick photo to capture the beauty of the moment. (See photo above)

I have come to appreciate such occasions. 

These wonders of creation illustrate a greater principle at work. No matter how barren the landscape of your life might be at the moment, or what storms have come your way, life can yet spring forth with a beauty that inspires awe and wonder. While we may be amazed at nature’s beauty, let us never forget what such beauty reflects — that the creation we behold came from a Creator who seeks to do the same with the lives of His greatest creation — you and me. 

Lord, let the Diamorpha spring forth in my eyes, in my heart, and in my life!

Note:  The picture was taken in April 2015 at Arabia Mountain Park, Lithonia, Georgia.

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