Consider the lilies...

Lilies, and not pale lilacs, are blooming in my door yard this Easter season. Twenty pots of them, all ablaze with scarlet, orange and red, spread their flaming petals like little tongues of fire stoked by the wind, in a line across my garden wall. There’s nothing apologetic or shy about these lilies; they trumpeted their arrival three weeks ago like pert and arrogant divas claiming their stage. These seasonal exclamations are amazing — when they’re in bloom they grab and hold your attention and when they’re gone they disappear into oblivion like stars in show business. For a whole year they lie buried in dirt, embalmed as it were in their bulbous casing, taking up space in my garden and often irritating me with their barrenness.

My mother, Lily by name and in temperament like a lily of the valley, gifted me these bulbs a decade ago. She had nurtured far too many in her garden and in her generous fashion, gifted them to me. I am not an inspired gardener like my parents.

My fingers are just plain brown and far from green. These plants suit me and my busy schedule as they don’t need a constant gardener. When I am inspired, I fuss but mostly leave it to my gardener to tend and prune. These bulbs just lie there enduring the wind, heat and dust, marauding squirrels and insects. There’s nothing exciting about them when they’re hibernating. Come spring and they rise from their muddy graves, resurrected to life, proclaiming in their glory, victory over death.

They are to my poetic sensibility, little sonnets to life and not pale elegies to death.
Every year, these magnificent flowers teach me that they can make it on their own, that they don’t waste time toiling or spinning but yet they are richer than Solomon in all their blazing glory. They tell me that weeping endures in the night but joy comes in the morning. They tell me that its death to give up but life to keep trying and hoping and waiting because everyone gets their place in the sun. They dip their heads, nodding in the breeze, as if to say “seize the day”. In a couple more weeks they will fade away, retreat and lie forgotten, their little lives “rounded with a sleep”. But today… they are exuberant, perky, making every moment count, spreading beauty and cheer in their brief interlude with the sun.

More than anything else, when I consider the lilies, I am reminded that there is a force that moves through all things. The hues, textures and fragrances that flood my senses, especially this time of the year, fill me with wonder and renew my faith. I become once again a humble worshipper, like Elizabeth Barrett Browning, as I see, “Earth’s crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God”.

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