Posted by: jevcat | November 5, 2011

On Considering the Lilies of the Field

Twice in the last month or so, the injunction to consider the lilies of the field has come up in the daily lectionary, once in Matthew and once in Luke.  I’ve been considering.

Two Calla Lilies on Pink by Georgia O'Keefe (in new show at the Brooklyn Museum: Youth and Beauty: Art of the American Twenties)

And I’m envious.  This is shallow on my part, I know, but probably most women will understand:  lilies are long, slender, classically good-looking – and they don’t have to spend money or work at it.  They don’t need to do anything to look fabulous, it’s just the way they are.

Lilies don’t worry.  Of course, they also don’t think.  I, on the other hand, with both Jewish and Roman Catholic heritage, am genetically programmed to worry.  I think, too – double whammy.  And I’m creative, as well – I can worry better and more imaginatively than most people I know – even back in high school, my Beloved was already complaining that I worry too much.  Not to mention that life the last few years has been, um, “challenging” enough to produce plenty of fodder for the worry-inclined – enough to worry a stone.

I doesn’t help that we are bombarded with conflicting messages about worry.  The self-help industry makes millions selling advice on how not to worry or be stressed, while newspaper headlines and best-selling books by investigative reporters scream, “Worry!”

I recently got a sales pitch call from the company that manages our one-remaining usable credit card, selling (or attempting to sell) balance protection insurance.  When I said I was not interested, she said, “But you have no idea what sort of things might happen!”  Wrong approach.  My mind flashed through everything we’ve been through the last few years, and I said, “Oh, I do have a pretty good idea.  Thank you and have a nice day.”

I’ve always operated on the principle of “hope for the best, prepare for the worst.”  I just seem to be much better at the latter than the former.

But hope is one of the “big three,” isn’t it?:  faith, hope, and love.  I console myself that I’m really good at the most important one, love, but faith and hope, at least lately, have been in shorter supply.

There have been times when, if faith the size of a mustard seed could produce a large tree, I might’ve managed a Brussels sprout.  Maybe.  Yet it’s never been totally absent, and I suppose that in itself is a gift.  And lilies, for all their fragile-seeming beauty, are actually quite hardy, with some varieties blooming wild alongside roads in summer.  Lilies are also usually perennials:  they may take a year off on occasion, but they don’t die off entirely, and will bloom again, year after year.  So maybe I can learn from those lilies of the field, after all.

Faith can be dormant without actually being gone, and burst into new life and glorious bloom just when you think you’ll never see it again:  consider the lilies of the field.

“Every evening I turn my worries over to God.  He’s going to be up all night, anyway.” – Mary C. Crowley


  1. This is so touching and beautiful, you nearly had me in tears. I think what you are talking about in the end is faith! And I know you have that!

  2. Thanks, Joan. I’ve been trying — Roger would say, “very trying.” 🙂

  3. Love this post. Can totally relate to it. I just wrote something on surrender. We do need to keep working on it and on the faith. I love the way you express it here. I’m also a good worry and think person and creative enough to be masterful at it. When folks speak to me about “thinkiing” they do not usually mean it as a compliment. Sigh.

    Thank you so much for sharing this!

    • Thank you, Martha. I’m glad it meant something to you — I think it’s something we all need to keep working on.

  4. Ok …. here’s my two cents. I understand the worry part, believe me I more than any one understands the worry part. But you have always had the faith part down better then most (read especially me). The faith and the hope are there for both of us, sometimes we just forget to remember that they are.

    As I remember, the lilies of the field is supposed to remind us that if the good Lord can take care of the liles of the field and the birds of the air giving them what they need, then we should cast our worries on the Lord as He will take care of us, too. And really if you look at it isn’t that the thruth???? Ok maybe somettimes not exactly the way we would want it to be, but taken care of notheless. So keep the FAITH of things to come and always have HOPE of a better tomorow my sister. Love you.

    • As with sports, I talk a better game than I play.

  5. I enjoyed your post here. I’ve spent more time worrying about things I have no control over than I ever should have. I thank God that each day He is freeing me from worry as my mustard seed of faith grows inch by inch!
    May you be blessed as you are a blessing,

    • Thanks. We probably all worry too much and trust too little, but if we keep making progress …

  6. beautiful post, my friend. I worry, too, these days…and yet.
    God gives me hope. God gives it to me…I am not sure what to hope FOR…but I feel hope.

    I know you do, too…focus on it, and it will grow.

    • Thanks, Jane. Hoping when we don’t know what we’re hoping for can be the hardest.

  7. Thank you for this. Very timely and resonant

    • You’re welcome, David. If it hit a chord in a helpful way, that makes me happy.

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