At thirteen, despite her tender years, Mary Rose never took the beauties of nature for granted. She would often sit on the verandah in the early morning, soaking up the sunshine and admiring the glories all around her. Nothing escaped her notice, and every degree of change received its own measure of appreciation. The mists that hung in the valley and shrouded the hills, or left the trees standing like grey ghosts, were no less lauded than the shining drops of moisture which hung from every leaf and sparkled amongst the ferns. "Look at them, Grandma," she would say with childish wonder in her voice, "that little tree looks as though it's hanging with diamonds!" And she knew Who to thank for all that beauty. No theory of evolution for Mary Rose, who's innocent young heart held the wisdom of truth, and knew and loved the Hand which had formed all these miracles of creation.
Even though Mary Rose was destined to witness many amazing things, she never forgot the magical experience of her first afterglow. I remember that summer well. The afternoon storm had been fierce, and she and William had stood on the verandah and watched its fury. The wind lashed the fifty-foot pine tree as though it was a sapling, and whipped the hedge into a frenzy. The rain pelted down, beating the fish pond to froth, and the edges of the driveway ran with torrents of water. They stood in silence watching the majesty of it all, and when it was over, and the wind had retreated with a sigh, William remarked upon how fresh everything looked, with the shrubs and bushes all heavy and bent over with their weight of water.
Mary Rose was not prepared for what followed. She wandered out into the newly washed garden, through the old wooden gate in the hedge, and onto Mr. Jolliff's cow paddock. The dark angry storm clouds had dispersed, leaving the sky streaked with pink and yellow. Then she noticed the glow . . . a golden light which seemed to get inside every object and intensify its colour. The grass displayed a more luxuriant shade of green; the cattle trails a richer brown, and the white patches on the wet hides of the cows shone dazzling white. She ran into the house calling to Effie that something strange and wonderful had happened outside. "It's the afterglow," said Effie. "Haven't you ever seen one before?"
"No," said Mary Rose, "but isn't it beautiful?" and she ran into the garden again, marvelling at the colours of the flowers, then out into the paddock again where she danced between the cattle, all staring at her exuberance in their bewildered way, as she raised her arms and sang a youthful, innocent hymn of praise to God for all His extravagant bounty.
How my old heart sings when I remember her gladness, and how I long for a return to the carefree days of her childhood. But Mary Rose lives only in my memories now, and I in turn give thanks to God for a mind that can still remember, and pray that in some miraculous way, I too might be able to appreciate His wonders with the same pure joy as did Mary Rose.