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From within summer’s treasures bloom Asiatic lilies: crimsons, salmons, whites, yellows, and golds; their profusion enhances ash pits, garage doors, backyards, as well as formal gardens. Atop stalks, sometimes over five feet tall, stamens and pistils strut their stuff within six-petelled blossoms—their blatant sexuality preening under the sun. Unlike other flowering shrubs and plants, their showing lasts for weeks.

I’m always stunned by the perfection of Asiatic lilies: the symmetry of their waxy petals, their unified whole, their coloring, and especially their pulsating energy. Never can I walk past a cluster of them without touching and smelling. Joy wells from my depths.

Such vibrant beauty recalls the aesthetics of John Ruskin, a British art critic and watercolorist. He experienced God’s love in the wonders of nature as he traveled around Europe and later developed his findings in five volumes of Modern Painters (1885), seventeen years in their composition. Such findings also fueled his passion for environmental reform caused by smog from factories during the Industrial Revolution. Hazed over was God’s unitive presence in nature—its connection, minimized, snuffed out.

Unfortunately, similar smog still persists. At best, we can keep it at bay through listening, in stillness, to clusters of Asiatic lilies. Be open to their gifts and be renewed.

 

 

 

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It was last Sunday, an afternoon of frothy flowering: nubby red-buds interfacing with cobalt skies; branches of apple trees thick-sleeved with blossoms; crab-apples, resembling cones of raspberry sherbet; weeping cherries bowed in supplication; tulips parading their colors like drum majorettes; and creeping moss carpeting rock gardens with lavenders and pinks. Such richness evidenced the synchronicity of warmth, moisture, and rich soil.

The same afternoon also held another kind of frothy flowering, one offered by the Missouri Women’s Chorus under the direction of Scott Schoonover. The rose marble sanctuary of St. Gabriel Catholic Church in St. Louis, Missouri, afforded the singers a protective womb from which to joyfully proclaim the revelations of six mystics: Mary, Mother of Jesus; Cecilia; Margaret Queen of Scotland; Hildegard of Bingen; Julian of Norwich; and Teresa of Avila.

Like the synchronicity occurring outdoors, we experienced the fruit of the Chorus’s four-part harmony; it illumined the sacred texts with ecstasy and opened them to wordless communion with the Sacred—No matter the obvious limits of the notes and words to encompass the Ineffable.

Such robust flowering in spring’s coloration and in the voices of the Missouri Women’s Chorus evidenced a power in our midst that effaces smudges from our “unclean hearts.” Humbled, we rejoiced with the fourteenth-century-mystic Julian of Norwich: “All shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”

 

 

Stillness opens us to hushed realms that envelop our senses within fresh vistas: colors scintillate, textures surprise, harmonies thrill, sweetness soothes, and aromas satiate. Our spirits quicken and we are exceedingly glad.

Once there, we discover, anew, the wordless swirl of Creator-Love that enlivens our next breath and resonates within each cell in our bodies¾perhaps similar to that experienced by Adam and Eve in the Genesis story.

But how cultivate such stillness?

Within us lie discordant voices that seduce, that insinuate, that cajole, that clamor¾activated by subtle or monstrous fears within our psyches or the world around us. The illusion of being trapped overwhelms and disembowels our spirits. We feel helpless.

1 Kings, 19: 11-13 reminds us to – “Be still and know that I am God.” Within such stillness, we’re refreshed, until the next upheaval and the next recourse to Creator-Love.

 

 

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