By Tracey Bianchi
Springtime and Easter bring lilies abundant. As their little trumpet-shaped petals open up to the sky, they sound out a tune of beauty and joy as we emerge from winter. On Easter Sunday I sat in church and was mesmerized by all the lilies. I caught a whiff of them as we sang choruses of resurrection and life, The scent was a soft reminder of hope.
I like lilies. Truth be told I've never actually purchased an Easter Lily, but I like the way they look and what they represent: hope, grace, wisdom. I like the fact that Jesus talked about lilies, that he took an interest in little white flowers pushing up from the dirt.
Easter Lilies are most famously perched atop church altars this time of year. When Jesus spoke of lilies, he used them as a metaphor for our lives, to tell us not to fret and struggle so much, that God takes care of us. The lilies of the field do not run around in spastic tornadoes like we do. They do not need caffeine to power on through. They just sit and receive the beauty God bestows upon them.
There are endless stories of the Easter Lily. A little research exposes a common tale. Most agree that sometime around 1920 a WWI soldier by the name of Louis Houghton dragged a suitcase of bulbs home from Japan. The Bermuda Lily to be exact. He was captivated by them and wanted friends and family to see lilies bloom. And so began the obsession.
Fast forward 90 years and we find lilies are the fourth largest-selling potted plant in the US. And that almost all their sales occur in a 2 week period each year. Great pains are taken by growers and greenhouses to make sure the lovely little cone shaped cups open their mouths right up on Easter Sunday. This, I have read, is no small thing.
To finesse, cajole and woo a flower to open at just the right time is an art form. To trick nature, trump the season (rumor has it they would normally bloom mid-summer) is a feat that enlists millions of dollars and many a breathless moment. And I am thankful for this work, for the wisdom these growers glean, for the knowledge at their fingertips. But I am also curious, not anti, just curious to know what Easter would be like without the lily?
It is an interesting juxtaposition to see all the energy we put into this flower when compared to the lesson Jesus had for us to learn from the lily. Fret or rest? What does this flower represent?
We sweat, curse, struggle and sow and then God says that he will make life bloom in good time anyway. We beg, pray, demand, urge and wait. All for what God has freely given to the flowers of the field.
So as Easter has passed and spring gives way to summer, take a moment to rest and realize that it is not about the lilies at all. Let the flowers of the field be a reminder of sitting, waiting, and receiving and let the sunshine of this season warm the depths of your very soul.