by Marshall Scott
Some who have read me before may recall that this time of year some of my time goes into gardening. I am, after all, Chief Assistant to the Lead Gardener and Steward of the Orchard of our parish. I know it’s still Easter; but it is for our household the Garden Season.
But recently I felt the two coming together in an interesting way. As I was working on recovering the garden from last season – that is, cutting encroaching grass and routing errant weeds – I began to consider that we might think about a different flower for Easter season.
Not that I have anything much against lilies. I can’t keep them around the house because they’re not good for cats. But, they are pretty and they are seasonal. We have come to associate them with funerals and the promise of what comes after. They can even provide some sense of resurrection: when they fade you can cut them down and plant them and they will sprout and bloom again.
At the same time, I think there is a better flower to suggest. I want to offer the dandelion as the best flower for the Easter season. The more I have thought about it, the more points I see to recommend it.
First, the dandelion is certainly just as seasonal as the lily. If not as early as the first bulbs of spring, it isn’t far behind. On top of that, its color is just as appropriate for a celebratory season: gold instead of white.
More to the point, nothing incarnates resurrection quite like a dandelion. Cut them down, and the next day they are back. Dig down to bring up the taproot, and still within a few days there it will be again. The hole may seem empty. There may be nothing to see; and yet it will return.
There are, of course, other parallels I could think of. The dandelion is nourishing in a way that the lily is not. That recalls the resurrection stories in which Jesus feeds the disciples (John 21: 9-14), and even eats himself (Luke 24: 41-43).
And then there are the stories we read from Acts during Eastertide. They remind us that the Jerusalem community grew wondrously in those early days, adding thousands after every public sermon and every witnessed miracle. Nothing better speaks to multiplying than the dandelion.
Indeed, it carries us to Pentecost and that mighty wind. The wind, like the Spirit, moves where it will, and we don’t see it. And when it moves, it carries those little, parasoled seeds, and everywhere new dandelions crop up. And, then, I hardly need mention that their ubiquity and persistence through the season can remind us that the resurrected Christ is with us everywhere and always.
So, perhaps we need to rethink: should our flower for Easter and Eastertide be the dandelion instead of the lily? I think the thought has its points, obviously. Of course, that may seem just too much of a change. Some might even think it silly. Perhaps. On the other hand, whether or not it changes how we decorate our churches, maybe it can do something else. Perhaps as we struggle for that pristine lawn or that managed garden we can also be reminded that all around us we can find reminders of our Easter story, not only as past but as present; not just as annual celebration but as daily experience.
The Rev. Marshall Scott is a hospital chaplain in the Diocese of West Missouri. A past president of the Assembly of Episcopal Healthcare Chaplains, and an Associate of the Order of the Holy Cross, he keeps the blog Episcopal Chaplain at the Bedside.