Moonflowers and loss of innocents in the Garden of Eden

Thursday, September 20, 2001

Sept. 20, 2001

Dear Leslie,

The white blossoms of the moonflower vine are heart-shaped and begin opening each day as the sun disappears. Moonflowers are tropical, so DC has been excited about this appearance, unbidden, on our fence. Smell them, she has urged me.

I have dutifully positioned my nose near a blossom and have truthfully reported olfactory pleasure, but just as truthfully my attention sometimes turns elsewhere at such moments: To the house we're renovating, a project at work, my golf game. Things like that.

Times like these will order your priorities. Not just in big ways, like reconnecting with an old friend or making more time for your family, but in ways that only seem to matter less.

We invited our parents over for dinner Sunday. My mother is taken with how some biblical prophesies seem to match up with the heartbreaking tragedies last week in New York, D.C. and Pennsylvania. Remember when the loss of a football or baseball game could be called heartbreaking?

My father and DC's father both served in World War II. They know how it feels to fight for your life and for your country. I remember my father's shaken face when we visited the Arizona memorial in Pearl Harbor.

He didn't say much Sunday, but I know he'd nuke terrorists first and ask questions later.

DC's father and mother are supposed to take a trip to India soon. On their last major trip, to Thailand, they got caught in a border war with Burma. The trip before that, they were in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi a month before the U.S. embassy was bombed. He at least is determined not to let terrorists change the plan.

DC awakens each morning newly frightened. At her church Sunday, the minister threw out the sermon he'd prepared and invited anyone in the congregation to stand up and talk about their feelings about the tragedies. Many voices shook.

The minister spoke of obedience to God and, quoting Ephesians, of standing against the devil in the "full armor of God."

I have never believed in the devil, believe instead that humanity alone is responsible for the holocausts that have been visited upon ourselves and what remains of the Garden of Eden. In the way we treat each other each day, each of us contributes to the atmosphere of peace or of war on this planet.

Have you noticed people acting kinder since the tragedies of last week? All humans have been wounded by this inhumanity.

As we prepare for war, questions should haunt us. Are more bombs the answer to terrorism? Will war soothe America's soul when we know innocent Arab children, women and men inevitably are about to be killed? We know the unutterable grief of losing innocents, thousands upon thousands.

If peace is the priority for so many of us, how then have we ended up at war?

These nights, DC calls from home to find out when I'll be leaving work. I call before I do, and she begins walking Hank and Lucy up Lorimier Street to meet me. They jump into the van and we drive the few blocks home, pulling up to the fence where the headlights now illuminate four open moonflower blossoms.

In this nighttime of our history, the moonflower has become my national flower, sticking my nose deep inside moonflowers my new priority.

They, like life right now, are incalculably sweet and dear.

Love, Sam

Sam Blackwell is a staff writer for the Southeast Missourian.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: