Veins of Gold

On our second trip to the Painted Hills this year we are witness to another botanical miracle. The golden bee plant (Cleome platycarpa) and John Day chaenactis (Chaenactis nevii) are experiencing a super bloom. This only happens if spring rains are sufficient and come at the right time. Fields of yellow carpet portions of the desert floor and hillsides. Where the hills intersect and create little valleys for water to flow, the flowers burst into golden veins that frame the red and cream-colored bands of clay.

Upon witnessing this display, Tarn and I do our little wildflower dance and laugh with joy. Because this super bloom is a relatively rare occurrence, we share our enthusiasm with others exploring the national monument. Most folks are very appreciative. Many do not see the phenomena until we point it out. Desert flowers are more subtle and the gold veins are too far away for a myopic selfie. Nevertheless, our enthusiasm is contagious and it seems to awaken some joy in others.

The etymology of the word enthusiasm comes from the Greek, enthousiasmos, ‘to be inspired or possessed by God’. Whenever I behold the beauty of nature I suppose this is an apt description of my feeling. From a Dharma standpoint, it might be expressed as recognizing ‘the self-reflected display of the radiance of the wisdom mind.’ The veins of gold flow brightly through my awareness where no words apply. But I am compelled to express my joy nonetheless.

Why do veins of yellow wildflowers coursing through remote hills seem to evoke such appreciation? There is really no why. It is like asking why a flower blossoms or a bird sings. It is in their nature. Likewise it is in our human nature to recognize the beauty that surrounds us and share that joy with others. This is also the paradox of the Dharma dawning in our awareness—we are inspired and filled with joy while at the same time knowing no words can express it. But we do.

As our aspiration prayers say, “In samsara may I teach the perfect Dharma and not become sad and weary while accomplishing the benefits of others. By the great waves of benefitting others without bias, may everyone attain Buddhahood together.” May all beings experience the veins of gold connecting us while we walk in beauty together.

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