The Sacramental of the Flower

I’ve noticed that often the Sisters’ daily Facebook updates feature flowers, and reference praise of God by way of the beauty of the natural world.  I think for many people the flower is a kind of sacramental, a visible reminder of the grace of God mediated to us in this fleshy wondrous world.

The poppies are in bloom, and they are the kind of flower that most speaks to me.  I do not know why (though it is easy perhaps to jest about the opiate quality embedded in them, and even to imagine that the flower is experiencing ecstasy–bobbing on its long stem in odd angular ways).

I discovered the poppy when I noticed them growing between two trees at the side of my yard the spring after I moved into my house.  A decent-sized patch of orange poppies–I believe I had to ask someone what they were.  I know from the previous owner that they accidentally discovered them too one spring, when they were gone a couple of weeks and didn’t mow that part of the yard as they usually did.  So presumably the poppies were planted decades ago.

There’s something else I’ve noticed about poppies.  Today walking down a more rundown street in my town with my companion Daniel, past small older decaying houses that are now mostly student rentals, I noticed a number of poppy patches.  And yesterday, near Rochester, IL, Daniel and I stopped to admire a driveway-long patch of poppies at an abandoned house.  It is rarer to see poppies in a well-kept yard, I’ve noticed.

Apparently poppies were once in fashion, and now are not.  They’re a sign of neglect now–a remainder from a time when someone cultivated flowers in the yard.

I find myself doing lectio beside my poppies, whenever I can–when the weather isn’t cold or rainy and windy, as it is today.  I’ve graded beside my poppies, prepared classes beside them.  They slow me down as I suppose any flower, beheld, can do.  And their fuzzy pointed leaves and long bobbing stems make me think of patterns–patterns of life that predate our own existence as a species on this planet.

Did anyone but God enjoy the face of the poppy before we were here?  Do the bees feel in awe of the crinkly wrinkly orange petals, or are they too busy collecting their pollen to notice?

For others who cherish flowers–what do they awaken for you?

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