Saturday, 3 June 2017

Consider the Lilies Mari Howard (aka Clare Weiner)

Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. (Lk 12.27)

On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. (John 14.20)

There is a small nature reserve near where we live. A piece of rough ground of approximately seven acres, noticed and determinedly fought for by a committed group when the eyes of developers spotted it about 25 years ago. It is marshy, meadow-y, and woody, and it is ours, the people of our corner of the city, to wander and wonder at nature. And, if we can, to join in the conservation.

Over some years I’ve noticed Swans nesting there, and this year observed the whole thing, from meeting and courtship to mating and nest building. It took some while to build their huge nest, the male swan especially working hard, almost until the eggs were laid. Now the cygnets have hatched! And you know what? I’ve only seen photos, and so far feel like Grandma deprived!

But on a visit to view, finding the Swan family not at home, I wandered off into the meadowy bit, and spent time observing bees among the wildflowers and a Brimstone butterfly fluttering high up, into a tree. Returning to the path I was reminded of ‘consider the lilies…’, for the path was now blocked by Mama Mallard and her 12 kids! Lovely to observe how the mother duck distinctly kept watch for predators (a noisy group from the local primary school being taught, in a woodland glade, about insects) – she could not see them but she could hear, and was wary.

No swans that day - but, the duck family who I would not noticed if
the more impressive birds had not been there. And the next day, no swans, and this time not ducks, but a different, more rare, elegant, and unusual, creature to observe and photograph. ‘God is faithful’.

Meanwhile the dreadful attack on young teens, almost children, in Manchester, happened. God is faithful? Where is God, people say. Or even, there can be no God. What, in comparison to this, is mere watching nature, which as we know is ‘red in tooth and claw’?

But our Father God sees even a sparrow drop, (Matthew 10.29, ‘not single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing …they do not sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your Heavenly Father feeds them …’)   He is concerned, He is involved. Evil may strike, but this is not ignored, it is not discounted.

As writers, we know how we can make connections, ones which in another context we might be told ‘no wonder you suffer from anxiety, you make wrong connections!’. But the art of poetry, and of all creative writing, actually involves joining the dots in ways we see, and which may speak to others who do not do this without a prompt. Its the creative mindset. Last week, in our small Bible Study group, we looked at the passage (John 14 v. 20), where Jesus tells us ‘I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you’. In this way we are his people, Jesus’s body on earth, and God the Father’s representatives to the world.
Tree Creeper (no sparrows in  my photo library yet)

And so in some sense we must show that God is indeed faithful, and deeply caring in situations of suffering. Those teens and children severely injured in the bomb outrage will, if they survive, possibly become long-term disabled. The trauma suffered by those who witnessed the event but have no visible scars could add to the numbers of the mentally ill. Although at the time the emergency services rushed to save them, they may become mere ‘numbers’ among those who are a ‘long-term drain’ on the National Health Service and Social Services. Government may not join the dots, but that does not mean that there are no dots to join.

I’m not saying that everyone who is a Christian should work as a medic, welfare worker, or firefighter! But that we faithful need to support the continuation of the important services which, when the traumatic event is over, continue the long term care of victims. And in the existence of good, ordinary day-to-day, care for all of us when we most need it. We are Jesus hands and feet, we are Gods representatives.

When we come to vote, we need to consider the lilies, for whose basic needs our Father in Heaven is a provider. And also to witness that He is indeed faithful, by remembering that we are the hands and feet of Jesus, and the disseminators is of his teaching and care for the suffering and the poor. For those who cannot work. For those who look like ‘a drain on resources’ but are, just as much as the healthy and strong, his creation for whom he cares. We need to think carefully about how this can be provided, with the people, and the funding, for all who need it. 

By the way, after I finished drafting this,
 that evening I was blessed with meeting the Swan Family on the pond!

Mari Howard lives in Oxford, where she writes warm, thoughtful, thought provoking contemporary stories ... and loves to visit Scargill for the ACW weekend.


  1. Beautiful post, Mari, and a perfect reminder of Gid's love nad concern in all that happens

  2. I enjoyed this. I often think of the art of good writing as 'making connections' in ways that perhaps others wouldn't, such as in unusual similes or linked themes.