We can learn a lot from a lily

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Nature has lessons to teach if we pay attention and notice things. I’ve had that thought a lot lately.

It is amazing how everything works in the natural world. For example, how does a four-o’clock flower know the time so well that it blooms on cue? The same goes for moonflowers that open their showy, fragrant blossoms only at night. Mother Nature blesses them with an intuition that allows them to do exactly what they need to do at exactly the perfect time.

I doubt they worry about having enough time, being on time or how long until it is time — a good lesson for us hurried humans.

I contemplated the way some flowers turn their faces toward the sun, moving from east to west as the day progresses from beginning to end. They know that light is life and movement, and darkness is rest and stillness, another good thing to understand.

My latest lesson came from the water lilies that are back after being dormant during the cold months of winter. They exploded to life almost filling the channel that runs along side our house.

The big floating lily pads even crept around the curve, out to the edges of the lake and surrounded the pier. Then long shoots with yellow buds sitting atop them burst from below the surface of the water.

Early one morning several days ago, I walked down to the water to sit and meditate on the start of a new day, something that feeds my soul. It wasn’t too hot yet and the lake was still and smooth as glass.

As I stepped onto the walk, a beautiful sight greeted me. A water lily had sent its shoot up between the boards leading to the widest part of the pier. The bud was now a glorious yellow flower, shining in the morning sun.

I knelt down to get a closer look and discovered a busy bee crawling around inside the blossom. I heard its soft hum as it raced up and down the petals.

It was such a peaceful moment that I closed my eyes, breathing in the stillness. Then my mind started thinking about that water lily, about all those water lilies floating around in the morning stillness.

These creations live their lives in the muck. Their roots anchor themselves in the mud and hold on for dear life. Try pulling one up and you’ll see what I mean by holding on for dear life.

Now some folks, especially in the state of California where they outlawed them (however you outlaw a plant) consider these invasive, aggravating water weeds. Even some people around here, me included, find them a bit of a nuisance because they tend to choke up areas where the water is shallow.

However, none of that bothers the water lily one bit. It cares not that its roots are in the muck, or that it isn’t highly thought of by some folks. It rises above all of that to give life to glorious flowers that shine like gold in the morning sun, welcoming bees and dragonflies and meditating humans to enjoy them.

The lesson for me, the one nature sent me on summer morning because I took time to notice a water lily, is that though we may feel like we are stuck in the muck, we always have the capacity to bloom, even if, like that one blossom between the boards, we sometimes do it in a most unlikely place.