“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it. People think pleasing God is all God cares about. But any fool living in the world can see it always trying to please us back.” ― spoken by Celie in Alice Walker’s, The Color Purple
We slowed and parked the motorcycle on the too-quiet main street of a town founded over a hundred years ago. The Granite columns although beginning to crack and crumble with neglect, stood at attention like sentries at the boarded up entrances of two and three floor buildings, and told of once upon a time wealth in a long ago bustling county seat. Names of proprietors were chiseled into the front facades of brick and mortar bank and hotel and mercantile, cornerstones cut from orange sandstone quarried nearby held permanent record of construction dates….1905, 1907, 1910. Fractured and crusty windows framed with sagging, rotten sashes, stared out toward the plains like hollowed eyes, empty, bleak, reflecting only midday shadows back at us because there was no life within.
Only the ghosts of former inhabitants heard our footfall as we stepped carefully over the uneven sidewalks and talked quietly about them in subdued contemplation.
We rode on, leaving the town behind us, crumbling and returning to dust….the long and somber days of Lent came to mind.
It is a rare March day in Oklahoma when the winds are calm, and on this day the bike glided smoothly with no strain against whipping gusts. The sun warmed my shoulders and seeped into the black leathers snug against me, protection from the cool spring temperatures. I watched our shadow as it skittered along beside us, an outline of us riding two-up, myself settled comfortably behind Steve as he maneuvered the bike on backroads through generations-old ranch lands. Our profile in gray danced across the fence posts, past the asphalt crossroads, coasting along the mud rutted truck tracks leading away from the main road and disappearing into spring- awakening pastures, the scattered patches of clover promising more green to come.
In stark contrast to the dying town, all around us, nature is yearning to begin again.
Impatient, the Bradford pear trees are among the most eager and have burst into crisp blooms, snowing down upon the fields in a blizzard of white as they shed to make room for fresh emerald leaves.
Rosy pink, lanky Oklahoma redbuds compete with purple plum trees heavy laden with wild magenta blossoms in the attempt to command the most spring commotion.
Other trees are hesitant, waiting their turn, showing only a suggestion of green along their budding branches.
Along fence lines, daffodils and early tulips bob and bow with pink and yellow and crimson, while tall iris leaves point to the endless blue prairie sky in slender spikes, preparing the way for their curly edged fleur de lis in blue and white blooms.
Looking out upon the rolling landscape, these red plains are washed in a profusion of the bright purple hue of Henbit, and I am reminded of Celie’s words about noticing God’s efforts to please us.
It seems to me that all of nature has had its fill of resting and waiting, is done with Lent and is bragging of God’s grace in new life.
Early dandelions along the roadside have already spent their cheery yellow and become seedy globes. The extravagance of creation makes me smile as the draft from our motorcycle kicks up their white fluff, sending out their hundred wishes into the breeze.