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Glimpse of Heaven
By Beth Muehlhausen

Standing tall on a single, thorny cane, a lonely rose in open bloom had no business growing along the edge of a country road this time of year. It seemed out of place, I thought, as I approached it while taking my daily walk. Besides, several October frosts had already claimed every other flower. It stood defiantly with soft, peachy petals flung wide, exposing a deep and vulnerable, fuzzy center. I felt compelled to stoop, cup my hand underneath the blossom, and turn its face to mine. Why were those petals still so perfect and without blemish? Why did they not fly away on this incredibly windy day? The barren ground beneath the rose plant lay blanketed by brown and gold leaves from neighboring trees, a reminder of seasonal change. As I released the blossom, it nodded side-to-side in the wind as if to say, "My beauty is a miracle. Be happy you have eyes to see it."

I walked on, braced against the force of the wind and captivated by the graceful choreography of a row of tall, willowy, pine trees on the other side of the road. They stirred with soulful moaning as the driving wind plowed without mercy across the lake to sing through their needles. The trees' gangly trunks bent and swayed in unison - back and forth, back and forth - like sweeping metronomes measuring perfect time for orchestra musicians, or a row of grandfather clock pendulums counting off segments of life in seconds and minutes and hours.

That same relentless wind swept thousands of leaves into frantic flight, throwing them haphazardly across the road to hurry away like giant handfuls of scampering mice. Some danced freely to the music of the pines. Others playfully leaped and tumbled like gymnasts, or spun together in little tornado-like funnels-children at heart. A few lifted skyward as if resurrected from earthly destiny to float high above my head on an errand to some more distant place.

Many leaves still hung on for dear life to the oak and maple branches overhead-familiar branches that had nourished them for months. Even as I watched, the wind tore at the leaves' fragile, crisp stems, and a few more sailed free. I marveled that some found strength to resist the insistent wind. Did leaves choose different identities: the bound and the free? Of course not, it was just a timing issue, I told myself. Every leaf would eventually fall as part of an ongoing cycle.

As I continued, little glints of silver and gold suddenly surrounded me: sunlight reflected from the feathery, almost transparent wings of tiny airborne seeds. Like a friendly plague, these flying specks filled the air and then, just as quickly, were gone. I felt almost as if I had been shrouded with a fine layer of pixie dust.

Pairs of wild swans looked like big, white, fishing bobbers out on the lake, disappearing momentarily between swells. How could these birds intuitively traverse those curling waves with such confidence?

Bent against the wind, I walked around a curve in the road to face seemingly infinite numbers of huge white caps driving across the lake. Dry cattails and reeds along the shore turned away from the frothy legions at the wind's command, bowing courteously toward me. I shouted against the wind's howl: "Hello, pleased to meet you!" Other tall grasses nodded in friendly acknowledgment, their silky tassels tossing like floppy rag dolls.

Warm sunshine flooded the pines, the hardwoods, the road, the rose, even the icy, sapphire-blue lake speckled with white, as well as my own body. I felt strangely, and yet confidently, connected with all of it. I understood how a leaf could cling desperately to the comfort of home, but also relish blowing in the wind away from that familiarity when the time was right to move on. I sensed kinship with a well-rooted pine tree singing and swaying in response to life's drama; a swan dodging adversity; a seed seeking to have influence in fertile soil; a cattail temporarily leaning from force into friendship; even a beautiful and fragrant rose blossom growing in rocky terrain against all odds. I felt strangely warmed by the faithful energy of the God who made the sun. I felt guided, as if steered by His wind.

I tasted Paradise today on my walk along a short stretch of very ordinary pavement. I rest assured that heaven will be no less glorious, and yet perfect in ways that the wind along the road could only suggest.
Beth Muehlhausen is the mother of four, a grandmother of four, a retired owner of a custom bakeship/lunchroom/deli, and a writer passionate about the topic of "hope." Her goal is to reach others with reminders that God is at work both within and without us if only we have eyes to see and ears to hear Him. She has been published in various magazines and periodicals and thrives as a wordsmith with a vision to be used by God to restore wholeness to others at the heart level. If you would like to write to Beth, you can do so through the Letters page of this magazine.