The Blooming Season of the Spirit

  Day Lily open

I know that my Savior liveth and he shall stand as the light of day upon the earth, and even though this body be destroyed, I know that I shall see him for myself and not as a stranger.

July is upon us. And my day lilies are in bloom. But they only last a day. That is why they are called day lilies! But while they bloom I want to capture their beauty. I have a lot of watercolor paintings of day lilies, trying to do just that. I have to be quick. As soon as they go into an arrangement I start the drawing. I do take photographs for reference to paint from after they shrivel up and fall off the stem. But when I look at the photographs, it just doesn’t quite capture what I see with my naked eye. And I have a really good camera. But when I look at the flowers directly or anything for that matter, I see things the camera doesn’t. Nuances of color, subtlety of shape, the lines within the petal that seems to be a pathway into the flower and off to its edge. Even the edges are more pronounced. With the actual flowers in front of me I can get a panorama, and a much better sense of the relationship of one flower to the others. And I love the pods. There are so many. Which rather off sets their short flowering, because the next day there will be others popping into view. The trick is devoting a couple of weeks to the adventure and challenge of trying to capture their beauty on paper. I think that’s why artist like to paint flowers. There is a beauty in them that we just have to replicate. Take with us. Make them ours for more than just the blooming season.

I think our soul life, our spiritual life, imitates nature in this way as well. We have ‘blooming’ seasons, when the self seems to open to the Spirit. The light of the Son falls upon us and we reach for its radiance. We bloom. We are in the state of becoming and growth. Open to the greater possibilities life offers, when we take the time to just look. Life in full bloom is a life lived in Christ. Open to his Spirit shining in our lives.

Others may hold pictures or image of the story of Jesus, of the Christ life, up to us, for us to look at. There are so many views; from which angle do we make our approach, to capture or convey something that is so real yet often so elusive? St. Paul tried to do it in his letters. In Philippians he says to put on the mind of Christ. I think it’s in the mind’s eye, in the heart’s eye, our own, that we see for ourselves the truth and the beauty of his flowering in our lives. To look directly and squarely at the gospel stories and let our eyes find what only we might see there. To get a better sense of the relationship from one parable to the next. In this direct gaze, which seems to ever be beholding a blooming season that never ends, we might be able to capture a truer likeness. And in that radiance better see our own flowering there.






Transformation in the Garden – Image and Likeness

Day Lily for blog

The day lilies are blooming, each in its turn, for only a day. Then they are gone, shriveled back up like a mummified corpse, curled back on themselves, dropping back to the ground from whence they came.  But then the next few pods open and there they are again in all their glory. They unfurl with the rising sun and sometime in the night curl up into themselves, withering as if they were something ancient, weary and wrinkled by one day’s life. Back to seed pods again, seeding the next generation, the cycle of transformation going on the garden. Their fleeting beauty asks that we pay attention during these few days as they herald summer’s zenith, sometimes ourselves wilted and weary from the heat.

One of St. Paul’s major refrains of transformation is the constant reminder that in Christ we are dead to sin and alive to God. Sin isn’t a word or topic that I like to touch on, perhaps because more often than not it has eclipsed the God-life that Jesus’ dying has given us. Made living our lives as Christians more a burden than the blessing that it truly is.

The good news is that Jesus was raised from the dead and because he was we are dead to sin once and for all. Once and for all we are alive for God in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:11-14). Sin though, I image, is like the shriveling of day lilies, the shriveling of ourselves – of God’s image and likeness in us – that we were originally created in and now in God’s triumph over death, we are renewed, recreated in that image and likeness. Each day the light of the Son shines upon us opening us to bloom as living presence to that light overcoming the darkness. It is more important to realize that in the face of sins no to life, the no that crucified Jesus, God’s Yes was even more powerful. It is God’s Yes that we live under now. It is God’s Yes that each days brings forth the garden of the world anew. Each day something new blooms under the gracious gaze of the Creator in the Life of the risen Jesus. Each day I look into the garden to see what has bloomed there today. What is blooming in me with each day that God is saying Yes to in His image and likeness in me.

This is a point Paul returns to again and again. Dying has no power over us, because it had no power over Jesus. In Romans Paul reminds us again we are baptized into the tomb with Jesus and He who raised Jesus will raise us as well (2nd Corinthians 4:13-15). Just like each day lily that heralds the day and blazes in all its glory, basking in the summer sun shine, it carried its death within it as well. Paul says we carry Jesus’ death so that the life of Jesus too may always be in us. It seems a paradox, but it is one of the many wonders that pushes its way through all the talk of sin and death, like the yellow day lilies pushing through the resurrection tomb of the dark earth, death may be ever at work in us, but a greater life force, the life of Christ in us,  is as well.

For we too have been planted in love. It is this planting in the love of Christ that brings us to the fullness of what image and likeness means. In Jesus as the risen Lord, lives the fullness of God. In Him we too find our fulfillment. For the rising and dying of each day and flower, each season and person, reminds us that that one Resurrection was the transformation of both suffering and death once and for all. For all.