George Bowers Sr.: Consider the daylilies
The cool nights and clear days of spring have given way to the hot and humid days of summer, and along with those changes have come different flowers. April’s hyacinths and daffodils are a distance memory as the daylilies have now taken center stage. These showy plants are a favorite of gardeners as they produce many beautiful blossoms over several weeks and add much color to the summer landscape.
Daylilies are also popular because they are easy to grow with a minimum of care and no deadheading required. In addition, they are very tolerant of frost as well as of heat and drought. They are not finicky regarding soil requirements and thrive in a variety of conditions and locations.
Beyond their striking beauty, daylily blossoms are also edible either raw or fried and some are featured in various Chinese dishes. Although I’ve eaten a few of these flowers, they have yet to become a staple in my diet and likely won’t as long as bacon, venison, and ice cream are available.
One other characteristic that enhances their popularity with commercial growers is their ease of crossing or hybridization to produce new colors and patterns. According to garden.org, there are over 84,000 varieties of these flowers now available with hundreds more being developed each year. There is even a Hokie cultivar featuring, of course, those sacred colors, burnt orange and Chicago maroon.
Although native to Asia, lilies of some type were common throughout the Middle East and carved blossoms of these plants adorned the bronze pillars that stood in front of Solomon’s temple. He also made numerous references to lilies in his love song that follows the book of Ecclesiastes.
The most obvious fact about daylilies, however, is the brief duration of their blooms. Although they are incredibly beautiful for the time they are open, these summer flowers only thrive for a single day, hence their name. They generally open early in the morning, display their glory all day, but then wither toward evening or just after dusk. Thankfully, the stems are loaded with numerous buds that provide new flowers each morning, but the lifespan of each individual blossom is very short.
It was this characteristic, along with their beauty, that prompted Jesus to refer to them in the Sermon on the Mount where he said, “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:28-34)
In this passage, Jesus reminded us that a God who creates incredible beauty even for something with such a brief duration will certainly watch over and care for the people he created who live much longer. We often become anxious and uptight worrying about lots of things when Jesus narrowed our to-do list down to one basic task: seeking God’s Kingdom and his righteousness. As we focus on this primary objective, our basic needs will be met by the one whose kingdom we seek. His words are a clarion call for us to take one day at a time, as do the lilies, and not get so worked up about next year, next week, or even the next day.
As we enjoy the summer beauty of the daylilies, let’s remember the words of Jesus and take each day as it comes. And may the brief duration of these blossoms also remind us of the relative brevity of our own earthly lives and use each moment to glorify the one who created both us and the lilies.
Enjoying the beauty, George
George Bowers Sr. is the denior oastor of Antioch Church of the Brethren and has authored nine books including his latest, “Valley Verses, Volume III.” He can be reached through www.georgebowersministries.com or at firstname.lastname@example.org.