Flowers preach to us if we will hear: The rose saith in the dewy morn: I am most fair; Yet all my loveliness is born Upon a thorn. The poppy saith amid the corn: Let but my scarlet head appear And I am held in scorn; Yet juice of subtle virtue lies Within my cup of curious dyes. The lilies say: Behold how we Preach without words of purity. The violets whisper from the shade Which their own leaves have made: Men scent our fragrance on the air, Yet take no heed Of humble lessons we would read. But not alone the fairest flowers: The merest grass Along the roadside where we pass, Lichen and moss and sturdy weed, Tell of His love who sends the dew, The rain and sunshine too, To nourish one small seed. ~Christina Rossetti fromGoblin Market, The Prince’s Progress, and Other Poems
Some sermons are written bold with color, illustrated with powerful gospel stories of righteousness and redemption in the face of our sin.
Some sermon passages are fragrant with the scent of grace and forgiveness, lingering long after the words are spoken.
Some sermon stories remain subtle and hidden, cryptic messages like the blooms that grow close to the ground, barely visible.
We need to hear them all preached, but most of all we need those every day plain-to-the-bone sermons which are trampled and tread upon, springing back up to guide our feet to the best pathway home. No color, no fragrance, no hiding: just celebrating the ubiquitous lichens, mosses and grasses and weeds which exist solely to help cushion our inevitable fall and help us rise up again.
“The violets in the mountains have broken the rocks.” ~Tennessee Williams in “Camino Real”
(These words became his epitaph)
Some beginnings in this life commence on inhospitable ground:
no soil, no protection, no nurture, barely enough water.
Here lies a drive to thrive and transcend: forcing through a crack in the pavement while exposed to relentless heat.
Such delicate beauty comes from nothing but a seed packed with the potential to transform its circumstances through perseverance. We all are created with the potential power to break through rocks and change the world.
This is the treacherous month when autumn days With summer’s voice come bearing summer’s gifts. Beguiled, the pale down-trodden aster lifts Her head and blooms again. The soft, warm haze Makes moist once more the sere and dusty ways, And, creeping through where dead leaves lie in drifts, The violet returns. Snow noiseless sifts Ere night, an icy shroud, which morning’s rays Will idly shine upon and slowly melt, Too late to bid the violet live again. The treachery, at last, too late, is plain; Bare are the places where the sweet flowers dwelt. What joy sufficient hath November felt? What profit from the violet’s day of pain? ~Helen Hunt Jackson “November”
Oh Stream of Life! the violet springs But once beside thy bed; But one brief summer, on thy path, The dews of heaven are shed. Thy parent fountains shrink away, And close their crystal veins, And where thy glittering current flowed The dust alone remains. ~from William Cullen Bryant’s last poem “The Stream of Life”
A seed may land in lush green
or a narrow crack of the pavement.
Only a dewy touch from above
will yield blooms from dry rock.
May my dusty soul be bathed