A Delicate Strength


Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park

Above the tree line, frigid wind, snow and ice sever all but the most adapted life forms.

In this harsh environment, against all expectation, alpine wildflowers paint the rocky terrain with vibrant hues of pink, purple, white and yellow:

National Park Service, Rocky Mountain National Park Alpine Flower
Rocky Mountain National Park Alpine Flower

Colors we typically associate with femininity–

certainly not our definition of rugged.
Courtesy Andy Baird, Travels with Gertie
Courtesy Andy Baird, Travels with Gertie

Though the largest clusters are one to two inches tall and less than a foot in diameter, most are miniscule–those pictured here, just an eighth of an inch! These tiny beauties have the power to attract attention despite intense competition from endless mountain views and pristine open skies:

Miniature stature we typically deem picayune–
certainly not our definition of majestic.

Sometimes needing several years to produce their brilliant best, they bloom as long as they’re able, which is sometimes just a day, a week, perhaps a month at most, then rest for the long winter. If damaged by caribou, moose or tourist, it may take years to recover the wound.

This level of productivity we might typically judge as insubstantial, flimsy–certainly not our definition of efficient or prolific.

Yet who among us could survive the throes of an alpine home?

Rocky Mountain National Park – National Park Service

How is it, then, these dainty fairies thrive amidst frozen, barren, wind-torn and rocky terrain?

Their roots run deep.

Burrowing, tapping into resources in earth’s safe bosom, their roots run deep–some as deep as ten feet below the surface. For a one-inch plant, a ten-foot root is a ratio of 1:120. Comparatively, the stately oak, symbol of strength and longevity, would need a root system at least 8,400 feet deep to match this ratio.

These deep roots are an amazing feat of strength and adaptability for these accomplished dwarf flora, completely unseen to the casual observer.

There are people who are alpine wildflowers.

There are people born in the barren, frozen, rocky terrain of abusive homes, people who grew in the frigid winds of neglect.

There are people who dug deep to survive, to find nourishment, people who found a way, against all odds, to bloom.

elderly hands with blossom
Their blooms may seem frail, insignificant to some.

Their blooms may be fleeting.

It may take a long time for them to recover when they suffer fresh wounds.

Yet they not only survive the uninhabitable, they forge a way to bring delicate beauty to a barren world.

Firm pressure without, driving roots deeper, they overcome adversity by becoming deeply rooted in Love’s safe bosom.

Drawing sustenance from Love’s deeply flowing waters, they are a living testament to the paradox of strength from weakness, of beauty from ashes, of value from wasteland, of life from certain death.

Let those richly blessed with supportive families and nurtured in attentive and caring homes, take heed to not rush to judgment of those who take a lifetime to bloom, who bloom tiny and tender, or who bloom just a moment in time.

A Safe Place
A Safe Place

Rather, let us respect the depth of their ingenuity, their soul-strength, tenacity and resourcefulness.

Let us learn from the depth of their relationship with their Heart-healer, their awareness of life’s essentials and sensitivity to harm.

Let us recognize variations of our standard definitions of rugged, majestic, efficient and prolific.

Most of all, let us be gentle in our relations with others, for we are each awesome in our own way.

A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice–Isaiah 42:3

©Joan T Warren


12 responses »

  1. Pingback: Where do you Flourish? | Jacqui Senn

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