The Lilies of Love

The other day in one of my readings, I caught a snippet of a poem by the 17th-century Welsh poet Henry Vaughan, which I recalled from a class on Renaissance Literature I took a hundred years ago.  

So I looked up the poem "The Revival" and then realized I wanted to share this stanza because it's about coming to the end of Lent and the signs of Easter we can start to see, which is precisely where we are now. 

It's also about something other than a season--liturgical or otherwise, which I'll explain on the other side of this: 
Hark ! how His winds have chang'd their note!
And with warm whispers call thee out ;
The frosts are past, the storms are gone,
And backward life at last comes on.
The lofty groves in express joys
Reply unto the turtle's voice ;
And here in dust and dirt, O here
The lilies of His love appear! 

The last line is the one that caught my attention.  "And here in dust and dirt, O here/The lilies of His love appear!"

On the one hand, you get the imagery of Spring and the flowers pushing their way up through the ground---ground that most likely had been frozen hard during Winter. 

On the other hand, there is something deeper at work because the work of Resurrection is always taking place, all around us, in us, and through us.  This work often happens in spaces where it may feel or seem like nothing can be reborn or brought back to life. 

Either way, it's beautiful.  

This imagery is vital for you and me, especially this time of year.  We've journeyed through a long season of Lent, and Easter is just around the corner.  It's almost time to step fully into Spring, and to celebrate the Risen Christ, tell the story of the disciples discovering an empty tomb once again.  

But it's also vital because this imagery holds us all year through, day in and day out.  There are so many losses and griefs that we bear, and this helps us to bear them with some measure of hope. 

You might be staring at the barren ground of a shattered dream.  Or you might be surveying the frozen earth of a relationship in ruin.  You may have grief over the loss of a job, a friendship, or even the loss of a loved one.  Maybe you are facing the grim news of a challenging diagnosis.  

But we should know that even in the dust and the dirt, the lilies of God's love may appear, and the signs of new life, hope, and direction will one day bloom in glory.  

Beloved, may you find the hope to say with the poet, "the frosts are past, and the storms are gone."  May you see the green of lilies bursting through the hard ground around you, not to be denied their moment in the sun.  

And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.  


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