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Tiger lilies are beginning to bloom. Talk of the Town, a popular species in our neighborhood, flourishes along fences and side gardens. Morning breezes excite their six-sculpted petals trembling with stamens and pistils; their orangeness ushers in summer’s brash colors. But in time, these rowdy adventurers will collapse their petals and wither and drop to the ground. Would that we could hold onto their beauty.

Looking deeper, we find this ordinary perennial rooted within the cycle of life and death. We, too, have a similar rootedness. How many springs have we experienced the pastel feathering of fruit trees, only to move into summer’s light-plays, followed by autumn’s chill and winter’s bluster? And quickened, yet again, with the return of kaleidoscopic color enlivening somber spirits?

So how can we relish such seasonal changes? Allow them to teach us? It seems to be about sacrifice: cutting away the unworkable for the fresh and untried.

Jesus talks about this when speaking of “the lilies of the field” (Matthew 6:28 +). He challenges his anxious listeners, ourselves included, to own their small-mindedness and to set their hearts on God’s Kingdom. Therein is experienced ultimate significance dressed in unchangeable colors, fresher than the first morning of creation.

 

 

 

 

 

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Flashing lights crazed an otherwise seamless afternoon: leafing trees flickering in the sunshine, flowering shrubs scenting the air, crooning infants heartening their moms and dads.

Emergency vehicles stopped at the corner bungalow and parked. Doors flipped opened. Firemen fastened their vests and grabbed axes. Paramedics hefted their bags over their shoulders and set up a gurney. Neighbors gawked from the sidewalk.

As I sat in my car, I prayed. For years, I had walked past this bungalow obscured by a distressed ash, an overgrown Chinese elm, and scraggly hedges. Neglect oozed through the papered-over windows, through the broken screens, through the rusty chain-link fence enclosing the backyard tangled with chicory, through the storm door listing on its hinges. No one seemed around—an abandoned house, or so I thought. I continued to pray as I drove home.

Yet, last month’s whirring of the air conditioner in the side yard had given me pause.

Fast forward to this afternoon’s crisis. Help of various kinds was on its way to the occupant, perhaps homeless in his/her own home, or perhaps having transitioned out of here.

The air conditioner was whirring the next morning as I took this photo.

 

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Sugar maple tree flames above me.

Trickster winds nudge single leaf from its mooring.

Like a gymnast, it sworls, down, down, down.

Then sticks to the glistening pavement.

Hairy veins, now empty of nutrients.

Musk steams from subsoil.

Stillness gawks.

 

Yet decay rejuvenates the cycle.

Spring will whisper under dove-gray skies.

 

 

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