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Lilies and Lazybones

Lilies and Lazybones

Wednesday, February 26, 2014 – Week of 7 Epiphany, Year Two

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:

Psalms 119:145-176 (morning) // 128, 129, 130 (evening)

Proverbs 6:1-19

1 John 5:1-12

John 11:45-54

It’s a good thing I glanced at this morning’s readings the night before. When I struggled to get up today, these words from Proverbs helped me get moving: “How long will you lie there, O lazybones? When will you rise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want, like an armed warrior.” I knew I needed to get up and meet the day before I found myself in trouble!

The wisdom contained in the book of Proverbs is very good at giving us a kick in the pants when we need one. But now that I’m up and about, I’m a little troubled by the discrepancy between what our first reading tells us about the gazelle, the bird, and the ants, and what Jesus tells us in the gospels about the ravens and the lilies. In the book of Proverbs, the animals strive and struggle like crazy to free themselves from danger and to gather enough sustenance to survive. Yet in the gospel, the birds and the flowers don’t have to lift a finger (or talon or petal) to provide for themselves; all they need to do is trust God from day to day.

So, what should we imitate? Should we kick into high gear like a terrified gazelle fleeing a hunter, or like an ant trying to stay one step ahead of scarcity? Or, should we live for today like ravens, and lounge like lilies, confident that we will receive everything that we need?

For me, these two approaches to life converge on one point of advice: We should all live with greater trust in our instincts. The gazelle and the bird who take flight, the ant who keeps up with the changing seasons, the raven and the lily who refuse to worry, simply do what God has created them to do, without much further thought.

The passage from Proverbs points out that the ant doesn’t need any authority figure telling it what to do: “Without having any chief or officer or ruler, it prepares its food in summer and gather its sustenance in harvest.” Likewise, perhaps we don’t need a stronger disciplinarian, a stricter overseer, or even an especially powerful will to whip us into shape. Maybe all we need is a God we can trust, and a sense of our own deepest, most life-giving instincts.

These instincts prompt us to run, to work, to rest, and to relinquish our worries and fears in the presence of natural beauty. We can learn greater trust in these instincts by observing the world around us. “Go to the ant, you lazybones; consider its ways, and be wise,” says today’s proverb. “Consider the lilies, how they grow . . . And do not keep striving . . . and do not keep worrying,” says Jesus (Luke 12:27, 29).

We can trust our God. We can trust the will toward health and love and happiness that this God has planted in our hearts. Whether we leapt up with the sun this morning or savored the blessing of rest for a little longer, I hope that we can spend today learning to rely on the good instincts that God uses to gently guide and sustain all creatures.

Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps program sponsored by St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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