Today I turned on the news.
Stocks have tanked, and oil crashed
and the virus spreads.
Today I turned off the news.
Today I went to the store.
Lines form for empty shelves
and the shoppers hoard.
Today I stayed home from the store.
Today I scrolled on my phone.
Tidbits and memes compete
and politics abound.
No comfort found.
Today I turned off my phone.
Today I got some sad news.
Sweet friend hushed a goodbye.
No words to speak
Tears down my cheek
Today I got some bad news.
Today I planted petunias.
A heart unfolds in the sun
and a garden renews,
a promise imbues.
Today I planted petunias.
It seemed like the only appropriate response. I just walked away from a day like that, and stuck my hands in the warm, humid earth. It was a good thing to do. I kept thinking as I dug, and picked, and tilled and planted, isn’t this what Jesus told us to do? “Consider the lilies of the field.” It was his remedy in the midst of a mindset of worry. This gentle mandate is set in a longer passage reminding us not to be anxious about the day-to-day needs of our lives – food, drink, clothes. We could add –jobs, pensions, economic forecasts and health – all the things in which we trust for our future well-being. Life is so much more than these things…He says.
On days like today, I turn away from the constant inflow of fear and anxiety, seeping into my psyche from every avenue. I speak a conscious “no” to it – a hearty rejection to the collective deep-seeded fear of falling through the cracks. As if we could miss out, not get enough, be overlooked, and even discarded. How very silly of us. Do we not know our Father in heaven, who cares for even the smallest of barn sparrows, for the lowliest of weeds that bloom so boastfully in the field? If He provides even the most insignificant of his creation with all that is needed to flourish and fly, how much more will He do so for us – the crown of his creation? Do we have any idea of how our Father in heaven delights in giving us more? Look around and see. His “more” is all around.
I study the intricate root system of the petunias as I carefully place them one by one in orderly rows. I run my fingers through the rich fertile earth I have prepared for them, tilled with fertilizer. It is ready to receive and feed them. I straighten and position each new specimen, dusting the dirt from their tender leaves, and hand water each. Is this not what the Father does for us – providing us with food for nourishment -his word, and drink for our souls – his Spirit, and how he clothes us in his glory- Christ in us. The flowers and the dirt help me see these deeper things.
Today I choose not to toil or spin about the small things. He has already given us the big things. All that we need. It is true, like the grasses of the field, we are only here today and perhaps gone tomorrow. But the ways of the kingdom are eternal. What we cultivate here for the Kingdom will last forever. My petunias will fade and falter in a short time, their temporal beauty sapped under a scorching sun. But we will not. He is growing in us an eternal glory that will shine like the sun, as we grow in Christ’s image. How much more valuable are we than the lilies of the field! So today, I planted petunias.
Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin,
yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
But if God so clothes the grass of the field,
which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven,
will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’
or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear.’
For the Gentiles seek after all these things,
and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,
and all these things will be added to you.
Therefore we do not lose heart.
Though outwardly we are wasting away,
yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us
an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen,
but on what is unseen,
since what is seen is temporary,
but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18