|Please feel free to download and print this high-resolution, A4-size quotation|
or pin it to Pinterest if you wish.
I have always been puzzled by this quotation from the Bible.
For one thing, although I am often happy to use flowers as a metaphor for our human lives, the fact remains that we are not ‘lilies of the field’ and unlike them, our clothing is completely separate from our bodies, it doesn't just 'grow' on us naturally!
And, as well as that, it seems to be in complete contradiction to a couple of the parables in the Bible, in particular, the one about the foolish virgins who didn’t bother to prepare their lamps and the one about making full use of our talents.
But then the Bible seems to be full of contradictions – as does life in general all too often!
I'm not at all sure. But couple of ideas spring to my mind and I'd be interested to hear what you think.
First of all, maybe the quotation is questioning our habitual preoccupation with where we are heading, rather than where we are at the present moment. It may be that we focus a little too much on the future, so much so that we lose sight of today and all it offers. Maybe we are setting ourselves goals to achieve at some future date, when the important thing is to set up good habits for NOW. Are we making the destination so important that we forget to enjoy the journey?
And secondly, it occurs to me that the quotation could be referring to the way we think about our material status – ‘Solomon in all his glory’ – and maybe it's asking us to consider whether we really need to be so preoccupied with earning and financial worth and how we appear to the world - ie our outer 'clothing'?
There is a book called, ‘Do what you love and the money will follow’. I haven’t read it but I’ve read the reviews and from my own experience, I understand the importance of being passionate about what you do for a living.
So far, in my case, the money hasn’t really followed or at least, it hasn’t made me rich!
And maybe it never will.
But actually, I’m not too sure that it really matters. Looking back over the past four years, I can see that since I took the plunge and started devoting most of my time to Art and Design, my desire to buy things I don’t really need seems to have evaporated! My income is tiny compared to the national average but I don’t feel deprived – in fact, in many ways I feel quite ‘rich'.
And I don’t have much time to go shopping anyway.
A third possible interpretation occurred to me.
The lilies referred to in the quotation aren’t necessarily Lilies-of-the-Valley. In fact it appears that the word ‘lily’ often refers to any local wild flower in the Holy Land. A wild flower doesn’t have the benefit of a gardener to water, feed and generally dispense TLC – and yet, some wild flowers manage to be stunning!
So maybe these words are reminding us that it’s too simplistic to think that we can produce the results we want entirely by our own hard work. It might seem desirable that life should be that straightforward, that those who work hard are rewarded and those who laze around are not. But that ignores the fact that much of what happens to us, for good or ill, is not the result of our actions. There is so much that is not within our control – the weather is a daily reminder of this! Maybe a hard-working person will get sick and unable to work; maybe a 'scrounger' will inherit a fortune from a relative he has neglected! Who knows.
It's doesn't seem fair but that's the way it is.
What do you think?