Father Eugene Hemrick

The gray winter weather threatened outside my window, but a voice within me whispered, “Get thee to the botanical garden!”

In Washington, D.C., where I live, the United States Botanical Garden is hosting an “Orchid Symphony.”

Music plays and spurts of water shoot from fountains dancing up and down to rhythms in the indoor plant museum. You can see floral arrangements, made of orchids and other plants, in the shape of a bass, fiddle, violin and harp.

Drinking in one gorgeous orchid after another, in an atmosphere of tall palm trees, ferns and charming music, was heavenly. Everywhere I looked, it was as if each orchid was competing for first prize for being the most exotic and stunning flower.

The first orchid I studied sported crimson tips peeking out of cream-colored petals, while another was a powdered violet color whose transparent petals reminded me of delicate lace.


When I think about the Garden of Eden, I often wonder what it looked like. Was it like the garden I was looking at? Was it a garden of awesome flowers, lush vegetation, dazzling colors and birds singing heavenly music in the background? Did God create it as a means of endowing us with the wonderment of his creation?

As I marveled at the various shapes, forms and colors of each orchid, how they meshed together perfectly, I remembered God’s mind behind the harmonious laws of nature.

The scientist Albert Einstein also was dumbfounded by the harmonious laws of nature. In “Einstein: His Life and Universe,” author Walter Isaacson writes, “For some people, miracles serve as evidence of God’s existence. For Einstein it was the absence of miracles that reflected divine providence. The fact that the cosmos is comprehensible, that it follows laws, is worthy of awe. This is the defining quality of a ‘God who reveals himself in the harmony of all that exists.'”

Isaacson wrote that Einstein “considered this feeling of reverence, this cosmic religion, to be the wellspring of all true art and science. It was what guided him. ‘When I am judging a theory,’ he said, ‘I ask myself whether, if I were God, I would have arranged the world in such a way.’ It is also what graced him with his beautiful mix of confidence and awe.”

In English, we have the word “breathtaking,” meaning something is so astonishing that for a moment, our life-giving breath stops in awe and respect of a marvel beyond our comprehension.

God’s harmony, found in music and flowers, the way I experienced it that day, is one of those precious breathtaking moments capable of dispelling the world’s grayness.