When we moved into our new (temporary) home last month, the garden patch was arid – mostly because the house has been unoccupied for a few years. Then, last week we had our first rain, and this week, behold what sprung up, seemingly out of nowhere. Yes, this whole bunch of yellow rain lilies! These bulbs hid in the dry ground, biding their time (slowing down?), and then burst open into loveliness. Lilies got me thinking of John Ruskin and what he said about beautiful things.
“Remember that the most beautiful things in the world are the most useless: peacocks and lilies for instance.” John Ruskin
(Funnily,our new place now has an abundance of both – peacocks and lilies!)
It seems that uselessness is gorgeous!
Most often, we use the word ‘useless’ as an insult. Our lives are often a race to prove just how useful and indispensable we are. Where does that stem from? Our insecurity? Will the world stop turning, if we took time to nurture ourselves and nourish our souls?
And you–what of your rushed and useful life? Imagine setting it all down– papers, plans, appointments, everything– leaving only a note: “Gone to the fields to be lovely. Be back when I’m through with blooming…. ~ Lynn Ungar from her poem Camas Lilies
In his book, Lifesigns, Henri Nouwen talks about people who volunteer at L’Arche to work with the mentally disabled. To many, he says, it might seem like time wasted, working with ‘useless’ people : “To anyone trying to succeed in our society, which is oriented toward efficiency and control, these people are wasting their time. What they do is highly inefficient, unsuccessful, and even useless.” He goes on to say that it is in this ‘useless’ work that God’s perfect love for all people is revealed!
Uselessness is something I want to ponder upon…….