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Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.”

And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.

From Genesis 1:11 – 13

We give thanks …

Each spring, an ancient fresco stirs my imagination and relocates me to another world in which greening is paramount.

Only 38 x 22 cm in size, the fresco depicts the Roman Goddess Flora, barefoot, her back to us as she plucks a white flower from a nearby tree to add to the basket in her other arm. Her full figure suggests pregnancy, fathered by the Spring Wind, Zephyrus. Their story is recorded in Metamorphoses (8 BCE) composed by the Roman poet Ovid.

An unknown artisan fashioned this fresco of Flora upon the one of the bedroom walls of the Villa Arianna in Stabiae, a wealthy seaside resort known for its architecture, frescoes, and statuary. Unfortunately, the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in southern Italy, 79 CE., buried the resort and neighboring towns under five meters of tephra ash where Flora remained until 1749; then, archeologists under the initiative of Charles III of Spain discovered Flora and numerous other artifacts that were later restored to the National Archeological Museum of Naples.

Yet, there’s something about Flora’s graciousness, stopped in time for our continued reflection. Perhaps that unknown artist caught her splendor-in-living for which she was revered, first by the Greeks under the name of Chloris, then, Romanized by Flora. Her devotees glimpsed in her the continuation of flowering, both plants and themselves, critical for survival.

Within such freshness and delicacy as Flora images, I glimpse Eternal Spring for which we all yearn—Thus her appeal through the centuries.

Silence hums outside my opened window as threads of dawn enwrap the star magnolia, a shrub-like tree, with its fragrant mantle of first flowerings.

We rejoice and give thanks!

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