Help From Blazing Lilies

When Jesus entered Jerusalem the Sunday prior to his crucifixion the crowds enthusiastically welcomed him.  This welcome bothered the Pharisees.  They told Jesus to rebuke the crowd.  Jesus’ reply was, “I tell you, if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” (Luke 19:40)  In the past I always understood this to mean that if the people ceased their praise then the rocks would have to cry out for them.  I’m thinking now that Jesus may have been reminding the Pharisees of what their very Scriptures declared—that all of Creation offers its praise to God.  Stopping people from praising God would hardly cease the flow of praise that ushers forth every day.  Last night while reading Mary Oliver’s “Morning Poem” I was reminded just how true this is.  Here’s how the poem goes:

“Every morning the world is created.  Under the orange sticks of the sun the heaped ashes of the night turn into leaves again and fasten themselves to the high branches—and the ponds appear like black cloth on which are painted islands of summer lilies.  If it is your nature to be happy you will swim away along the soft trails for hours, your imagination alighting everywhere.  And if your spirit carries within it the thorn that is heavier than lead—if it’s all you can do to keep on trudging—there is still somewhere deep within you a beast shouting that the earth is exactly what it wanted—each pond with its blazing lilies is a prayer heard and answered lavishly, every morning, whether or not you have ever dared to be happy, whether or not you have ever dared to pray.” 

I want to believe that what Mary writes is true.  I want to believe that we humans are not the only ones offering prayers to God each day.  I want to believe this for a variety of reasons.  One of the main reasons is I would find great comfort in knowing that when my “spirit carries within it the thorn that is heavier than lead,” and finds it hard to offer God the praise He deserves, that God still receives the praise He is due.  I confess that my spirit carries such a thorn now so hopefully there is a blazing lily out there somewhere that can help take up the slack for me.  That would be nice.

–Chuck

(I photographed the top lily last month in North Carolina and the bottom one in New Mexico in May.)