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look at the lilies

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look at the lilies

Written by  rabbi russ resnik

art-lilliesAnd why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. —Matthew 6:28–29

The Master’s main point in this illustration is that we don’t need to worry because we can trust God to care for us. The lilies of the field don’t work at all, and yet God beautifully clothes them, so why should we, who do make an effort to provide for ourselves, worry that God will forget to clothe us?

It’s a powerful point and worth remembering, and Yeshua says something in passing that provides a further lesson: the lilies of the field are attired in more glory than our most glorious king. Now these lilies were wildflowers that cropped up on the hillsides of Judah for a brief moment after the rainy season. They weren’t the sort of flamboyant flowers that would grow in the tropics, or in the well-watered gardens of more temperate lands. These flowers were smaller and more subtle, and only someone who was paying close attention would catch the Solomon-surpassing glory of "one of these."

And just who is it taking the time to smell the roses, or in this case to really see the lilies of the field? Not some carefree child or retired senior enjoying his golden years. Rather, it was a man on an urgent mission of earth-shaking importance, a man with more to get done in his brief time here than any of us. In the midst of it all, he’s paying close attention to the wildflowers scattered on the hillside and thus teaching us by example the lesson of awareness.

Awareness means paying attention, not just to the sort of task or amusement that might demand our attention, but to God and his creation at all times. Awareness is being alert to “humanity, your soul and Hashem,” as the website puts it. This alertness in turn yields insights an appreciation of Hashem and his creation. It’s equally fruitful when directed toward another human being. We often relate to others in a state of distraction or stingy attention, with our minds really focused on something else beside the immediate I-and-thou encounter right before us. Our enchantment with electronic gadgetry doesn’t help the situation, and to cultivate this middah we’ll have to counter that enchantment.

Yeshua’s real point in the “lilies of the field” illustration is not to worry, but to trust in God’s provision. His example of awareness is a sort of sidebar to the main lesson. But perhaps there’s more to it than that; perhaps awareness of our surroundings, of “humanity, your soul and Hashem,” leads to a greater awareness of God’s power and kindness, and enables us to get beyond the worry that so readily distracts us. If we really see the glory of the wildflowers, a glory that only God can create, we might be more ready to trust him and leave worry behind.

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