Celebrating God’s World

“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these” (Matthew 6:28)

Here is a phrase from the Sermon on the Mount. Our Lord Jesus is explaining to His disciples the outlook on life one must possess in order to experience the Kingdom of God within one’s heart and soul. It may have been springtime when flowers burst into bloom. Do more than notice – Consider [reflect deeply, observe thoroughly, study] the way they grow without any effort. They are God’s glory and beauty. From the Talmud: Every blade of grass has an angel that hovers over it and whispers “grow.”

Consider the peak seasons of nature’s splendor: Spring, when the earth comes alive; and autumn, when it returns to rest through winter. Two weeks in each when the trees put on a display of loveliness, a rare opportunity to give God praise for presenting us with His glory – and yet how many miss the moments when buds blossom, bloom before they become fruit for our nourishment? A fortnight in May when we take lessons in appreciation of our own infancy and childhood, and then in October, when we have the possibility to apply a spiritual meaning to the words of Browning: “Grow old along with Me, the best is yet to be – the last of life for which the first was made. Trust God, nor be afraid” [Rabbi ben Ezra]. God blesses the world with an aperitif of beauty. Not too much, lest it become assumed and ignored as normal, like blue skies and night constellations. Beauty at trauma times when like roses they adorn the mystique of birth with its angst of passage for the infant and pain pangs for the mother that end in joy, and the terror of the unknown at the awareness of death, with the promise from Christ Jesus of everlasting bliss confirmed in the multicolored leaves whose radiant allure was there all along, hidden beneath the growth color of green.

Christ is contrasting the common obsessions we humans have. We worry about what is not in our control. “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, more than clothing?...Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?” Consider those who were listening to our blessed Lord. The clothes they owned were the clothes they wore. They had none of the security advantages that we Americans enjoy - welfare and health benefits, as citizens of the greatest power on the globe - while they were existing in an occupied territory.

Consider His point: Why would God lavish such loveliness on mere flowers of the field that grow and die in a season? Is it not a waste of splendor? And yet He creates such an ostentatious display even if nobody appreciates it. How much more has He invested in you and me, whom He made in His image to pass through this period of our lives gleaning whatever wisdom and spiritual insights we pick up through suffering and struggle, triumphs and disappointments – all for the opportunity to turn sins into virtues and illusions into faithfulness? Think of His investment in us. If flowers can be beautiful, how much lovelier is a soul that finds itself by losing itself for Christ’s sake? Ponder on the essence of floral elegance. All the ingredients are natural, from brown earth, water, sunshine and photosynthesis. To “gild the lily” is ridiculous, because gold does nothing to enhance the pulchritude put there by the Lord. Why then do we think we contribute to God’s artistry by adding to the natural beauty of a human being in the ways that each culture has of defining beauty? What is left out when innocence, purity, wholesomeness and spiritual qualities adorn a girl, woman or man?