I love Bluff Park in the spring. Though it’s lovely in autumn as well, I prefer seeing the trees turning green again, the profusion of flowers, especially the azaleas, the transformation of the landscape to life and vitality. The most mundane errand, if it requires a short drive, provides the opportunity for a moment of aesthetic enjoyment and appreciation.
I become conscious in those times of how fortunate I am. The unsolicited blessings I enjoy such as the beauty which visits my neighborhood each year is a gift; there is a tendency, I am afraid, to become too blasé about those benefits. Because I have always had them, I arrive at the point of believing they are deserved. Perhaps that I am entitled because of who I am, or where I live. I become just a little bit arrogant; my comfort level persuades me that other communities, other places are less deserving. As a result, I become insular, self-centered.
A trip like the one I now enjoy forces me to confront many of my mistaken ideas and attitudes: my ethnocentricity, my feeling of entitlement, my assumption that God favors people of my disposition and situation. Springtime in Morocco reminds me of those unfortunate tendencies. A short walk in the neighborhood where I am staying demonstrates God’s favor in other locales. The hibiscus, oleander, and bougainvillea are all in bloom. Especially the bougainvillea! Solid purple curtains, thirty to forty feet wide, cascade over high walls in a stunning display of color.
Yesterday, I took the train from Rabat to Fez. The trip requires about three hours, providing plenty of time to observe, enjoy, and reflect on the impressive scenery. The mountains between the cities provided backdrops of green growth as the young crops emerged. The fields of winter wheat have yet to begin their transition to harvest gold. Wildflowers abound, huge expanses of yellow, amber and white. An occasional patch of red announces the presence of poppies.
Hedgerows of cactus, delineating garden plots or the backyards of rustic rural homesteads display blooms of red and purple, the growth which will eventually become the prickly pears sold by street vendors in late summer. The eucalyptus trees, imported and planted by the French in a reforestation effort during the colonial period, never lose their leaves, but even they seem more vibrant in the spring time. The olive orchards, tiered on the mountain slopes are, well, olive. But, one can see glints of silver on the underside of the leaves when they rustle in the breeze. How wrong I am to assume for myself special blessings because of geography or circumstance. I am reminded that God causes the rain to fall on the just and the unjust. Too often I make the mistake of placing myself in the wrong category.