When I see this photo of a friend’s garden I smile a little. The flowers, Allium, related as they are to onions, make me smile a little. They have a Dr. Seuss quality about them. They are not ugly, nor are they gorgeous. They were favorites of mine in the monastery when I needed flowers for the high altar which were fun, and a bit silly and would annoy my brothers. They looked well against the grey stone of the monastery chapel and they seems to wink at the great, imposing, marble baldacchino over the altar.
Sometimes I find that they are “my flower” the way couples have their song and nations have their anthem and families have their vacation spot. I return to the flower every so often in my mind’s eye because it gives me permission to be quiet. Most of us need to be given permission in our society to be quiet and gentle. I know people who need to be Gerber Daisies and others who need to be great pink or yellow roses – dashing, startling, showy. But I know that being showy is exhausting and can, at times, be a thin veneer over a deep insecurity.
When Jesus says “consider the lilies of the fields” he is pointing to a wild flower whose loveliness is complimented by its edibility and its simplicity. In a society in which there is a Starbucks on every street corner and in which church membership has dropped by 25% in ten years and is expected to drop 50% in the next ten, “enough” is a way of being which the church can still teach and perhaps even model.
It takes a humility which I sometimes do not possess to be “enough” in life rather than “stunning” or “impressive” or “an expert” and yet the Allium reminds me that “enough” can still be beautiful.