April 28, 2020.
Approx. read time: 2:45 min., plus reflection questions.
A patch of garden flowers catches my eye on my walk along East 11th, at the edge of Northwest Christian campus.
Among the flowers, the pink and white Columbine captures my heart. I stop, and contemplate her beauty.
Actually, I cannot see the beauty hidden deep within her face. She looks not upward but downward, and not so much downward as outward. Not downcast but quietly reflective.
Ah, she is one of those flowers Jesus talks about.
“Consider the wildflowers,” he says, his arm sweeping toward the grassy expanse before him.
The wildflowers, like this patch of garden flowers at my feet.
These wildflowers, he says, neither work nor spin. Just like the birds who neither reap nor sow, and gather nothing into barns. Yet your heavenly Father, he says, cares for them.
They do none of the things I do to stay busy and, hopefully, useful. They have no need to monetize their efforts.
The big assignment for these flowers is to quietly offer their beauty to passersby by day, and to the stars and street lights by night. Then, when they die, their work is to enrich the soils from which they came.
Like the birds of the sky, these flowers do not worry! Why would they?
Why would I?
“Your heavenly Father knows what you need before you even ask!” the Teacher says.
Now Jesus circles in close, here. “Can any of you, by worrying, add a single moment to your life-span?”
Can you? Now tell me, can you?
His teacherly silence dares us to admit, Well, no.
But if I’m not worrying, I’m not giving it my all. Right? Worrying means I care. A love language gone awry.
I feel the Teacher’s piercing gaze, which thoroughly makes its point. His silence wins and I am sobered.
Yet you and I have much to be concerned about these days. Concerned right up to the edge of anxiety, testing the edge of worry. Careening toward the land of obsession.
Concerned about our health, and the health and wellbeing of our loved ones and neighbors. Concerned about how we will survive financial disruptions. Concerned about when we can get back to normal. And what normal will even look like. Concerned about what we will have to settle for.
The worry list is long. And exhausting.
And that’s the thing about worry. It exhausts the spirit. Exhausts the Spirit right out of us.
Worry throws us off mission. And the mission is this: To remain in God, and to craft, in this place and time, the “new” normal that always was meant to be—the reign of God. Bringing forth the new from the shell of the old.
I think these things as I stand before this little garden patch. Little Columbine remains beautifully still in her benevolent outward gaze.
And the words of the mighty Teresa of Avila come to mind: “Let nothing disturb you. Let nothing affright you. All things are passing. God alone is sufficient.”
Little Columbine, beautiful in her raiment. Object of divine love and provision.
As are we.
- What, within nearby nature, speaks wisdom, or beauty, insight or encouragement, to me?
- Am I changed, in some small way, by this received wisdom, or beauty, insight or encouragement? How so? What story can I share?
- Am I willing to believe Jesus and trust what he says in these simple lessons about how things work in the reign of God?
I’d love to hear from you!
Photo credit: Mary Sharon Moore, 2020