Considering the Lilies
The last few weeks have been on the whirlwindy side: A long van trip up to and back down from Alberta, Canada for several presentations there, and all of two days here at home before we schlepped on another long van trip down to and back up from Houston, Texas, where I presented to a gathering there too.
I love travel, don’t get me wrong.
I wouldn’t do what I do if I weren’t to enjoy chucking a suitcase into the back of a car or to a friendly neighborhood airline checker-innerer.
And thankfully I love the people who were with me in the van for four 20+ hour van trips, and it was a thrill to see again and meet people who have been or who became dear to my heart at each of these events.
But when I got home from Houston on Thursday evening, and every day since then, let me be clear: I have wandered about my yard and my woods, I have breathed deeply, and I have soaked in the beauty of this earth.
I am so glad to be home, and I can’t help but notice that I am so much calmer.
It dawned on me that my lowered shoulders aren’t only because I could relax after the full-on pace of presenting, and not only because I no longer needed to be tensely alert on the highways and byways of our travels (God bless you drivers of Texas and Missouri…)
It was also because in the last several weeks, I haven’t had time to breathe in beauty.
I finally got home to savor beauty.
You can’t help but notice it, when you’re here: the place somehow just seems to open up its arms and says to all who visit: Welcome. Let’s show you around. We’ve some stunning sites to display for you. This is ours together to enjoy while you are here.
The luxury of the vibrancy of nature simply announces itself to you as soon as you turn onto the driveway.
But sometimes, the beauty is in the details.
Those, of course are the very things that are so easy to walk by, both because one is so overwhelmed by Big Picture Beauty, and because humans have a habit of harried, hurried lives.
But if we slow down, if we maybe wander a bit, notice what we notice:
Look, for example, at the difference of a month in my orchard.
That was taken on May 26.
Now look at this apple tree, just four weeks later:
Or take a peek at some increasing closeups of a birch tree by our seasonal creek, which runs under our driveway.
We also have wild flowers: sudden patches of daisies, wild blooming chives, bees making their honey thanks to our more-than-welcome dandelions, whatever the heck those blue blooms are, and just within the last week peonies (I wish I could somehow send their scent as an attachment: beauty comes also in the form of a fragrance…) with industrious ants launching their petals.
(bonus points for ooohing at the shoes)
The first two Saturdays of June, my congregation came and helped re-create and create trails through our woods. The greens are nothing short of lush—and some of these pictures were taken two weeks ago!
I might need to tie a rope around myself when I make my way into the forest next week…
(See? Even Jesus is exhilarated by all the branch-and-eye-popping nature!)
It’s easy, in these days of resistance, of strife, of indignation, let alone of the normal patterns of normal life, to feel that one doesn’t have the time to mosey.
But I find that frenzy builds on frenzy, and anxiety breeds anxiety.
Here’s some word trivia: The word ‘frenetic’ means, quite literally, ‘inflammation of the brain,’ and the word ‘anxiety’ has a direct etymological connection to the word ‘anger,’ and means ‘tight’ and ‘constricted.’
But after two years in this majestic place, I’ve come to think that an antitode to both is anchored in the simple habit of noticing beauty, and breathing it in (not to mention owning a fantastic pair of shoes or two…).
Helpfully, Matthew 6:27-29 reads this way: “And which of you by being anxious can add a single cubit to your life’s span? And why are you anxious about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory did not clothe himself like one of these.”
So the lilies we have in our yard peaked here while we were gone last week, even though they neither toiled nor spun.
Everything fades, this is simply true.
Even shoes, darn it.
It is also true that immersing oneself in nature, surrounding oneself with vibrant expressions of creation—even if it means having but a single pot, maybe two, of blooms and greens on your windowsill—crafting times to simply breathe might not add any more cubits to one’s lifespan than anxiety does.
But without a doubt, a person’s cubits graced with the peace of the proverbial lilies (or whatever may be in season) of the fields adorn not just the senses, but one’s very essense.
Grab a moment, grab a hand, grab a bloom, grab a breath.
And then find yourself releasing the grabs, and welcoming, savoring, luxuriating in the peace and the grace of a lily considered.
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Contact Anna at firstname.lastname@example.org to visit about personal or congregational consultations, as well as to speak about booking her to present at your next event.
She also runs The Spent Dandelion Theological Retreat Center, where you can come to Retreat, Reflect, and Restore at her North Shore home. Visit www.spentdandelion.com to learn more!