New Every Morning

daylily collage

A few pictures of the author’s daylilies from the yard.

Gardening has been a part of my family’s life for as long as I can remember. Some of my best memories took place in a garden, picking carrots, blueberries, blackberries, pears, and many other fruits and vegetables. We also spent many hours fertilizing, spraying, and caring for flowers like roses, calla lilies, and many other varieties.

Gardening not only connects me to my family, but also to my faith. The creation story in Genesis takes place in a garden (Genesis 2-3). The night before he was crucified, Jesus prayed in an olive garden, the garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-46). Following his crucifixion, Jesus is placed in a tomb in a garden (John 19:38-42). After his resurrection, Mary Magdalene mistakes Jesus for a gardener (John 20:11-18). In Jerusalem, I visited the Garden Tomb, which could be the place where Jesus was placed, and where people from all over the world gather to worship. In death, many caskets and funerals, are graced with stands, sprays, and wreaths of flowers or live plants as a symbol of life even in the midst of death.

I have several plants in my garden. Roses, bearded irises, Louisiana irises, lantana, gladiolus, and annuals such as zinnias and salvinia to attract butterflies and hummingbirds. But my favorite is the daylily. I like dayliles for several reasons. First, they are tough. My daylilies have survived several moves, transplants, and other challenges that would kill many flowers. Often, they have bloomed in the boxes or bags in which I moved them! They grow almost anywhere, in almost any soil, though they do best with lots of sun. Second, there are many varieties and variations. If you don’t believe God likes variety, look at the daylily! Daylilies can be found in almost all shades of the rainbow (except blue). Some are small (as small as 2 inches), others are large (as big as 10 inches), while most fall somewhere in between. Daylilies have many forms.  Some have eyes or colored edges, others have rounded forms or long, spindly arms (usually called spiders). Daylilies have many varieties and variations.

My favorite thing about daylilies is that they are new each day. The scientific name (hemorocallis) literally means “beauty for a day.” And that is what they do. Bloom for one day. Only. Then they die. When I walk through my garden, one cultivar that was a beautiful flower yesterday is now a dull, lifeless husk. Conversely, one bud that yesterday was only the promise of a bloom has blossomed into a beautiful flower. Here today, gone tomorrow. Just like life. Just like us. The daylily reminds me of what lasts, and what does not. “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever” Isaiah 40:8. I am reminded, that like the lilies are new every morning, so is God’s mercy. “22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23

The next time you see a beautiful daylily, beautiful for only a day, think about what lasts and what passes away. Maybe, like me, you will find a blessing that is new every morning.

Keep Your Big Mouth Shut!

Largemouth Bass with the tail of bream sticking out of it's gullet!

Largemouth Bass with the tail of my bream sticking out of it’s gullet!

As I mentioned here https://revkevreflections.wordpress.com/about/ one of my favorite things to do in my spare time is to go fishing, especially fly fishing. My grandaddy taught me how to fly fish, and every time I go fishing I remember the things he, and my other fishing partners, taught me about fishing and about life. But I think that is a subject for another day.

Black bead chain Wooly Bugger- a favorite fly!

Black bead chain Wooly Bugger- a favorite fly!

Largemouth Bass that ate my bream!  Looks like it needs a good meal!

The Largemouth Bass that ate my bream! It looks like it needs a good meal!

Last spring, I went to a local pond for a few hours of fishing. The wind was calm and I thought it was a beautiful day for flyfishing. So I pulled out my fly rod, rigged it with a wooly bugger (a fly tied with chenile, marabou, and chicken feathers), and proceeded to catch a few bream (pronounced brim- bluegills for non-southerners). I was catching some nice bream and they were putting a nice bend in my long fly rod.

I hooked a nice bream, and it was pulling hard, until the line got HEAVY. He must have got behind a log or a branch, I thought. Then the line start moving away and I realized that either my bream had experienced some exponential growth or I had a large predator fish on my line. Sure enough, after a few runs and allowing the long rod to tire the fish, the fish got close to the bank. It was a big largemouth bass! I landed the fish and when I picked it up by the mouth, I looked into its very large mouth (I could put my entire fist into the mouth of the fish) and all I could see was the tail of my large bream. The bass had decided to try to turn my bream into its next meal and instead its large mouth (pun intended) got it into trouble.

This got me thinking about all the time that my mouth had gotten me into trouble. Sometimes, my mouth outruns my brain and I say things I shouldn’t. I imagine you have been there too.

The book of James in the Bible talks about the trouble our mouth can get us into. It describes the tongue as a raging fire that cannot be quenched (James 3:5-6). James says that though humanity has tamed many species of animals, the tongue has not been tamed (James 3:7-8). It says that though the tongue is small, it can control us if we are not careful, comparing the tongue to a bit that guides a horse or the rudder that controls the direction of a ship (James 3:3-4). In both cases, something small can have a great influence, just like the tongue.

Of course, the tongue can be used for good too. The Bible tells us that a gentle answer turns away wrath (Proverbs 15:1). James even reminds us that “from the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so” (James 3:10)

As I looked at that bass, I couldn’t help but think “if you kept your mouth shut, you could have avoided all this trouble.” But I couldn’t help but think about times that I, like that bass, had opened my mouth and got myself into trouble. The moral of the story, for me, was that I should be very careful about when I open my mouth and how I use it. Maybe I, and that fish, should keep our big mouths shut more often.

By the way, if you’re wondering, I released the bass, with my bream in its gullet, to be caught again. So if you’re in the neighborhood, it is still swimming if you want to try to catch it. Unless it has learned (as I am trying to learn) to keep it’s big mouth shut!