Queen of the Night

In June my husband and I had the pleasure to enjoy a short trip to Siesta Key, Florida. While there, we made new friends, ate some wonderful meals, and spoiled ourselves on the beautiful, soft sandy beaches.
Around the corner from the beach, we encountered a rare flowering cactus that grows in only a few locations, mainly in South and Central America. The Nightblooming Cereus, or Queen of the Night, has large white flowers that bloom in late spring or early summer, but only in the dark of night for one evening a year. We kept our eye on the vines that were climbing up several trees and rocks, and one night while walking to dinner we noticed several buds that seemed ready to open. 
As luck had it, we were there on the right night. Just a few hours after dark, we found several buds which had magically transformed into beautiful, fragrant flowers.

Here's a picture giving an idea of scale of these flowers:
No sooner do these Queen of the Nights bloom in all their majesty, but within hours they inevitably begin withering. That's it, a full year preparing to blossom and just one short night to live it up in full glory. By morning, the flowers had disappeared, leaving behind just drooping remnants and memories.
Are the Cereus flowers conscious of their short, often unseen life? 
Does it make them any less beautiful? 
What the Queen of the Night whispers to me is that we can each do our best to grow in our time, to climb from where we are now, and to shine forth our fullest, brightest, and most beautiful while we're here.

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