Here’s a special letter from Holly, in honor of Memorial Day:
A few weekends back, for Mother’s Day, my dear friend Sue asked me to participate in a service she put together called “A Liturgy of Flowers.” She sent us each a Bible verse that mentioned a flower and asked us to write a poem in response.
Here’s what I received: Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these” (Matthew 6:28-29)
Here’s what I wrote:
Listen, the Lilies are Shouting
Each morning when we rise, if we’re lucky,
the lilies in all their glory shout to us, that is
if we lean over, put our ear down, listen closely
enough to hear them, to see not just their flashy
mid-day glory, opening to the hot sun,
but also their quiet, shy beauty, the light
that glows when the sun’s obscured by clouds.
May we be reminded that when our spirit flags
and doubts hover like clouds above us,
that our own beauty will shine through,
that beauty can feed us, can clothe us,
can perhaps even save us if we listen.
Because it was Mother’s Day, Sue’s prompt sent me off into remembering my mother, who first taught me to love flowers. She delighted in helping us make May Day baskets of lilies of the valley, violets, and forget-me-nots to leave on the doors of our neighbors. She filled our house with flowers from the yard: not just the expected vases of tulips in the spring, peonies in the summer, but would artfully arrange dried grasses and bittersweet— what some might call weeds—all year round. They were all beautiful to her.
In her last years, as she lost her mind to Alzheimer’s disease, my mother never lost her love of beauty. She couldn’t remember the names of anything, but my mother still knew to stop to watch the sandpipers scurry up the beach, the squirrel racing to the nearest oak, the sky blossom with color as the sun sank into the sea. In her last years, she breathed in beauty like oxygen, and I want to believe these daily sips of beauty sustained her as her logical mind departed.
What small sip of beauty did you take today? If you haven’t yet taken a sip of beauty, look around and see what object offers beauty to you in the moment. For just 15 minutes, write an ode to that thing, whatever it may be.
Or perhaps choose your own “bible verse” to inspire you: this can be a snippet of something from any text you consider sacred.
We don’t have to wait until everything settles down to spend even a few minutes a day in beauty; we can consider not just the lilies but whatever flowers we encounter each day. We, too, can take small sips of beauty daily, then rise to the challenge to create something of beauty ourselves.
With love on this Memorial Day,