America the Beautiful: Sappy and Wonder Struck
“Sappy” and “wonder struck”: how do those two words fit together? Let me explain. I recently attended the wedding of a darling bride and spiritual daughter in Washington, D.C. during the cherry blossom season. Viewing the cherry blossoms was on my bucket list and when I discovered she planned her wedding during the peak season of the cherry blossoms, I was so excited.
After the bridal luncheon, I headed back to the hotel and I asked my taxi driver where he was from. With a grin on his face, he told me he was from Ethiopia, but so happy to be living in the United States. He told me he was one of the lucky ones to have been “chosen” to receive a green card to the United States. Apparently, every year a certain number of people are accepted into our country from Ethiopia. This young man spoke wonderful English and said he studied and did everything he could to be accepted. My heart smiled with his enthusiasm. At that time, I had no idea God was preparing me for what I was about to see.
On Saturday, George and I took a taxi to see the Lincoln Memorial and began our journey of viewing the cherry blossoms. I asked our taxi driver where he was from and with a big smile, he answered Ethiopia. Another Ethiopian! I asked if he was glad to be in the United States and he said it was a dream come true for him and he loved this country. Every day, he awakened thankful. Again, my heart smiled along with his enthusiasm. Once at the memorial, we stood amidst a crowd of hundreds of people.
I took a moment to see the countless nations represented there that day. Some people were reading the south wall inscription of the “Gettysburg Address” and some were reading Lincoln’s second inaugural speech on the north wall. Both young and old seemed to absorb the words; even fellow Americans teared up as they read. I turned and looked over the expanse of the mall lawn and beheld masses of people enjoying this free country. Tears welled in my eyes and I thanked God that I called America my home: a country where there is a democracy and freedom of religion; a country where people can arrive with nothing, work hard, and build their dreams; a country where education isn’t denied due to race, gender, or creed. In this land, children are not dying from unpurified water and food is not in short supply. With tears streaming from my eyes, I thought of how blessed I was to be standing on those steps, having been “chosen” to be born in this country: America the Beautiful.
George and I made our way to the tidal basin and my heart began thumping as I gasped at the beauty surrounding us. The tulip trees bloomed in varying shades of magenta, melding with the snow white cherry blossoms. A sea of florals filled the expanse before us: yellow daffodils swayed in the breeze; tulips wove their way through the flowerbeds; forsythia shone like pure gold. On either side of the Potomac River, the delicate branches of cherry blossom and tulip trees pooled in the rippling mirror of the water. Ducks glided along the surface of the river while tree boughs hovered over them to create shade from the glimmering sun. Tourists snapped their cameras continuously, repeatedly saying, “Oh look, have you ever seen anything so beautiful?”; “Look over there”; “Take a picture of that tree!” and so on.
In the distance on either side of the river, the Washington Monument pierced the sky and the Jefferson Monument hovered over the horizon, both of them representing strength and dignity. I thought of the years of battles the forefathers fought so that I could be there that day enjoying this God-given beauty. America the Beautiful. All along the path, people of all nations posed for family photos and pictures of His glory. I exclaimed, “Oh Father, my eyes nor my emotions can take it all in.” He responded to my heart, “It brings Me great pleasure to watch you and all My children enjoying My creation.” As time slipped away and we needed to return to the hotel, George and I both walked in silence, sinking deep into our own thoughts. We both knew words were impossible to explain what we had experienced. At times I walked with a smile and then in a quick moment, tears of pure joy flowed from my eyes. I spoke no words but felt His love. I was “chosen.” Not only chosen to be His child but chosen to live in America. Does “sappy” go along with the words “wonder struck”? Absolutely!
At the hotel I tried to write down what I had seen, but words failed me. Instead, I jotted down a few scriptures.
“The heavens declare the glory of God … But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (Psalm 18:1, 1 Corinthians 2:9 KJV).
“Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created…” (Revelation 4:11 KJV).
When times get busy or the news only speaks of negative things, stop and view God’s creation and the beautiful things of America. There are many distractions that aim to focus our attention on the negative, but we have so much to be thankful for. It brings such joy and pleasure to see what God and our forefathers created for you and me. Don’t think on the things that disturb you and cause the beauty surrounding you to fade. Think upon His love and the display of His glory, just as the angels do. “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of His glory” (Isaiah 6:3 NIV).
Father, help me to have the enthusiasm of my taxi drivers because they were “chosen” to live in this country, and may you continue to bless this land: America the Beautiful.