Kirkepiscatoid

Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!


Matthew 6:25-33:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? 28And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, 29yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 30But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Now that fall is well underway, it's nice to reminisce about the summer, and one of the things I'm going to miss for a few months are the wonderful orange day lilies in my yard, and a few "volunteers" along the roadside. So let's "consider the lilies" a little bit.

1. Lilies don't have much of a choice where they grow. As far as I know, we don't get any votes on where we are born, who are parents are, who all grew up in our house, and what kind of people they are. We have no control of what century in which we come into being, the affluence of our family of origin, or what color our skin is. We have no ability to change the culture of the towns in our childhood lives or the attitudes of a community at that time in history.

We are planted, whether those seeds or bulbs are on fertile ground or rocky ground. One of the things I admire so much about the orange day lilies that dot the countryside around here, is that you see them thriving everywhere--whether they are in my yard, or in the yard of a house much more palatial than mine, or in what was left of what is now an old dilapidated farm house, or even growing feral by the roadside. They seem to grow--and sometimes even thrive--in the oddest and seemingly most inhospitable places.

2. Lilies don't have any control of what grows next door to them. Those lilies, as they sprout and grow, don't know if they are going to be growing in the sun or the shade. They have no control of someone cutting down a tree next to them. They can't make an executive decision on whether to be next to a protected grove of brush or brutally out in the open. If a dog walks by and pees on them, they are just going to have to stand there and take it.

We don't get to choose who lives next door to us. We don't have any say-so in the number or types of people who walk past us or walk into our lives, or exit our lives. We have no control of death. We have no control of what people want to think of us--and if they decide to hike their leg and pee on us for their own reasons while we're just standing there minding our own business--well...we can't really control that either. We like to think we can...but the actual control we have over that is miniscule.

After all, it is what THEY see in a lily that makes them stop and admire it--or ignore it.

3. Lilies don't have much to say about the weather. Lilies do not get to vote on the amount of rainfall that falls on them each year. They do not determine the paths of hurricanes or tornadoes. They do not control the hours of light or dark in the day. They don't know what day the first frost is coming, nor can they predict one of those "March Missouri snowstorms that dumps 6 inches of snow on plants that are starting to bud."

We have very little to say about the "paths of storms" in our lives. We do not know what the sum total of the length of our days will be. Six inches of snow and freeze could befall us at our most vulnerable moments. We could be up to our waist in the rains that can drown us, or be parched from the lack of water for our psyches. We don't determine the light or dark forces in our lives--all we can do is strain to face the light and try to get the sun in our face.

4. A lot of the "health" of healthy lilies has to do with the influence of outside forces. I think about those "feral" lilies I see by the roadsides here in July and August. They look so "independent," so "ruggedly individualistic." But really, they're not. They came somewhere from someone's flower bed, even if it was generations ago, and those seeds were carried by the wind, or birds, or flowing water and they took root in a remote place. They had to come from SOMEWHERE. They are still dependent on the elements to grow and thrive. They need bees and other bugs and hummingbirds to move their pollen from place to place in order to be an established bed of lilies year after year. In essence, they're WAY more "dependent" than they appear.

Our American culture feeds the delusion of "Ruggedly independent" like no other. We admire it. We worship it. The funny part about what those of us who consider ourselves "independent people" and fully "get it," have come to learn that "independence" is really a myth--that it depends on things and people outside of our control, and what we are really doing when we are content in our "independence" is actually saying we gave up the delusion of control of our environment. We have come to an understanding that we will accept the "ambiguous unknown."

In other words, we accept "mystery."

This, of course, doesn't mean we accept mystery every moment of our life, in every psychodynamic in the human spectrum of emotions, but we, through our trials and tribulations, eventually make peace with it. However, this "making peace" can be an incredibly painful process, and frequently exposes two constantly nagging sins--pride and covetousness. Ow.

5. Lilies were born lilies. They can't be irises or tulips, no matter how hard they try. Lilies may well morph over millions of years of evolution, but today, tomorrow, and the next day, they are still going to be a lily. Even after all that "evolving", a million years from now, that lily won't be a tulip. It will be something new.

If someone likes tulips, and thinks a lily is a disgusting trash flower, there is nothing that lily can do to make it be liked better. It can't change its color or its appearance--it can only grow into its full "lily-ness." That person who doesn't like lilies is the one who has to do the changing.

We all are born with so many psychological intangibles. We all know that some babies sleep through the night right off, and others are colicky all night. We might be naturally good at math, but not so great in diagramming sentences. We prefer one color over another, one season over another, one sex over another--we simply have a LOT of innate preferences. We know where we are on that spectrum of "solitude vs. companionship." We know innately what fulfills us and what is toxic to us. Yet sometimes we spend a lot of time either trying to be irises when we are lilies, or trying to make lilies into irises and being frustrated that they "don't change." All of us would be better served if we'd all just try to appreciate the flowers of humanity for what they are--even the ones that make us uncomfortable or even shrink back.

Toujoursdan posted something on his Facebook status today from St. Benedict that says all of this more succinctly than I ever could:

"Live this life and do what ever is done in a spirit of Thanksgiving. Abandon attempts to achieve security, they are futile. Give up the search for wealth, it is demeaning. Quit the search for salvation, it is selfish. And come to comfortable re
st in the certainty that those who participate in this life with an attitude of Thanksgiving will receive its full promise."


Ultimately, how much of our life is God's doing, and how much really is "ours?" I am finding that, for me, so many things I thought were "mine," were never mine to begin with, and am spending more time giving them back to their rightful owner--God. I just haven't learned quite yet how to give them up without a fight!


2 comments:

This is very thoughtful and beautiful and frankly just what I needed after a day that included writing a paper(still not done) and being in two blog disputes, one on my very own.

*sigh*

Thank you Kirkepiscatoid, and thank God.

Sorry to hear about the blog disputes. Those are always hard, and I tend to be pretty "Rodney King" about those things--"Can't we all just get along?"

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Kirksville, Missouri, United States
I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

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