“And why do you care about clothes?” Look at the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither work nor spin, but I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of them. – Matthew 6: 28-29
I have been looking at the lilies of the field lately.
Not the ones Jesus referred to in the well-known verses above from the Gospel of Matthew: these flowers were probably crown anemones. Anemones are purple, purple, or white wildflowers with black centers that grew in great profusion on the hills around the Sea of ââGalilee each spring. Even today, you can see the beauty that Jesus saw if you Google âanemones in the hills of Galileeâ.
No, the lilies I thought of are our local summer favorite: the tiger lily. I grew up seeing these dark orange blossoms on long, majestic stems growing in ditches and along roadsides in northern Maryland – they go together in my mind with ripening tomatoes and lightning bugs in great profusion. Unlike Matthew’s “lilies of the field”, tiger lilies, also called lilies of the field (Lilium lancifolium) are really lilies. Apparently they made it to the United States from Belgium in the 1870s. They have adapted well to our hot southern summers and seem to thrive just about anywhere there is sun and good drainage.
On the humble but showy tiger lily, biologist Dan Leopold of Syracuse University School of Forestry said, “It won’t thrive in shade, but in just about any other setting.” , he can tolerate any extreme. ” Leopold called the tiger lily âindestructibleâ. How about that – a surprisingly bright wildflower that loves what we have to offer: the heat and the under-loved rural and suburban roads.
Tiger lilies are as common as it gets in yards and along roadsides, but have you ever really looked at a tiger lily up close and personally? They are absolutely gorgeous: long, sturdy stems crowned with dark orange flowers. If you take a closer look you’ll see a bright yellow center, large orange leaves that curl inward along the edges, each with a bright yellow stripe down the middle. The fine stamens spread pollen on your hands and clothes (be careful, it stains).
I just think of the wild flowers that Jesus must have seen many times around his house in Judea. He noticed things that others did not know – sick and injured people, small children and common wild flowers. And he saw the beauty and the potential there that no one else saw. Our Lord even compared his native flowers on the hillside to the clothing of King Solomon, famous for his wisdom, wealth and lavish lifestyle.
Jesus’ words about the lilies are part of his teaching in the Sermon on the Mount on Anxiety. These flowers don’t work and don’t care and yet look at their beauty, he told the crowd. If your Heavenly Father cares for the birds of the air and the flowers of the field and gives them what they need to thrive, won’t He do the same for you? Why does God lavish beauty in humble places with the tiger lily? Just because.
There is beauty all around, even in the midst of the hustle and bustle of this hectic world. Consider these lilies.
TOWER. SUSIE THOMAS is the senior pastor of Farmville United Methodist Church. His email address is [email protected]