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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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March’s ire prolonged a soggy grayness that flummoxed root systems timed to fire their greenness above ground. Wetness loosened gumballs from specter branches and hurtled them like grenades toward slick pavements. Solitary patches of fescue, like punk hair, bullied wilted mounds of zoysia on lawns. A squirrel twitched its nose, tossed back its head. A dog shivered, leaned into its leash as it scrambled onto my neighbor’s porch.

Yet, the rains dripped into April. Like those safely ensconced within Noah’s ark we yearned for the sun’s energy to restore dryness and color to our land.

All the while, a happening in my flowerbed gave me pause. The tips of six green blades began to push through the protective mulch—unheard of because of nothing having been planted there. Weeks passed. Like daunting gymnasts strutting their stuff, more blades appeared, not without being pommeled by winds and biting rains. Nothing would stop the growth of these daffodils, not even Easter Sunday’s sleet storm.

Three days later, the sun’s warmth lowered the heads of the tight buds and unraveled them; their yummy yellow still trumpets hope for all to hear.

Such display, in microcosm, reflects the Unseen Hand bestowing life in its full color and symmetry, despite insurmountable obstacles. We have only to observe …

 

The ground still shivers from the impact.

It happened during the pre-dawn hours, Friday morning, May 19, 2017. Lashing rains and winds felled the centuries-old oak tree alongside the serpentine driveway leading to the entrance of the Second Baptist Church in St. Louis, Missouri (established in 1831).

The exposed roots give pause: blunt scraggily remnants suggesting disease. More distress is also noted in the large swath of thumbnail-sized shells protruding from within deep grooves of the bark near the seven-foot base. Yet the leafy branches strewn on the ground give no clue to these disorders. Perhaps an arborist could have intervened, years ago.

To those sensitive to such events, the lesson is obvious.

In whom or in what are we rooted lest the storms of life topple us over?

 

 

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