Consider the lilies...
Therefore I say unto you, Be not anxious for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than the food, and the body than the raiment? Behold the birds of the heaven, that they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not ye of much more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit unto the measure of his life? And why are ye anxious concerning raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God doth so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Be not therefore anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? For after all these things do the Gentiles seek; for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Be not therefore anxious for the morrow: for the morrow will be anxious for itself.
“Making it up as we go along, praying we’re making the right decisions”
"I’m feeling pretty exhausted.”
"I’m feeling pretty stressed.”
"I’m not sure who to listen to. Not sure who to trust.”
For me it feels like the clouds that hold the tornadoes from that Helen Hunt movie, Twister. Maybe that’s being raised on the prairies of Central Illinois and something is surely coming rearing its ugly head. Conversations are swirling around and most all of them filled with uncertainty, filled with unknowing. And that’sthe truth of it – we just don’t know.
So, is it possible, without being too naïve and without auditioning for the role of Mary Poppins in the next Broadway show, is it possible to sit with the unknowing of this? And if we are able to sit with the unknowing, then what?
Centuries ago Jesus is said to have gone up on a mountainside to teach. His words from Matthew’s 5th, 6thand 7th gospels bring light to guide our way. Beginning with Beatitudes and continuing through the next chapters, he speaks words to comfort and sustain. Words for us for times when we feel lost and afraid.
Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. Consider the birds of the air. These are words about not doing anything, instead they are words of re-focusing. It feels so easy to get into mind-loops of worry and despair. It feels so easy think of what is missing, what is not enough. And again, I’m not ignoring the seriousness of these hours, but inviting more. Consider the lilies of the field, in the midst of our knowing that clouds are appearing on the horizon, just out beyond where we can now see, in the midst of all of that, consider the lilies.
For me, these words help me catch my breath. These words help me re-center and re-focus. I am not alone in this. You are not alone in this. My faith tells me that Jesus knew how easy it is to get into fearful loops of unknowing. He knew what it was like to be afraid to take the next step, because there didn’t appear to be a next step. He lived among us. He knew compassion for sisters and brothers who felt the storms growing on the horizon. And his words? What did he say in response? “Be not afraid.” “Be not therefore anxious for the morrow: for the morrow will be anxious for itself.”
Where we are right now is not where we will always be. We are facing something that is not yet known. That’s the truth. AND there is more to our lives than that. WE are more than just that.
As I’ve been listening to conversations this week I’ve been inspired and encouraged by the smart and thoughtful and compassionate people in my life. I’ve heard words not just of “me and mine,” but kind and generous words of “how can I help with…” “What can we do for…”
Consider the lilies…are words of not seeing smaller, but of seeing bigger. They are words of not only going inward but continuing to look out and around. These are words of not losing sight of a greater Presence that invites us to not give up. These are words of not being anxious, not trying to control the uncontrollable. Instead these are words that go to the heart of our faith – be not afraid. Emmanuel, God-with-us. Left foot, right foot.
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Lesley is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. Her passions are listening to her sons, John Brogan and Sam sing; great conversations, long walks and baseball.