Happy Easter! It’s been a little different this year, hasn’t it? We were blessed enough to be able to go to church… real, in person church… but celebrations were low key due to Covid. Was it the same where you are? No Easter bonnets, no new outfits, no spring flowers, and no Easter lilies. (We did eat chocolate, so that was a thing). Usually, the church altar is decked out with a few pure white Lilium longiflorums, or Easter lilies, that usually get distributed out after the service to brighten someone’s day. They are highly poisonous to cats, so I choose to share. Besides, I am not a fan. Easter lilies stink. To me, they smell like “death”.
That sounds a little harsh, I suppose, but I don’t like the fragrance. The white, trumpet like flowers are usually ladened with pungiant yellow pollen and always remind me of funerals — or Easter — which, to be realistic, has me musing about death. Death seems to be one of those things a good Canadian doesn’t want to talk about, and I am not sure why. Especially as Jesus followers. Easter reminds us that Christ has swallowed up death, and we sing about His victory over it, etc. etc. We “believe” it — but too many times we deal with death in an unhealthy way. Too many of us fall into deep dispare and find it difficult to climb out of that pit. Now, before the hubby tells me I’m cold-hearted, of course, I mourn with others at the loss of a loved one… even a beloved pet gets me going; but the truth is, death is a very big part of life. And the death of a believer should have us rejoicing that he or she is celebrating in Heaven. Not pining for some selfish wish for the “way it was”.
So many other cultures and religions “celebrate” death. Unfortunately, it is often tied to the unknown afterlife of the individual and assuring their “profitable” passage to their eternal homes… or tied to the “spirits” left behind and assuring they are appeased by the living. You’ve probably heard of opening the windows of the home to allow spirits to have “free access” out…or perhaps Mexico’s famous “Día de Los Muertos.” This is a massive event that lasts three days, beginning on October 31. According to Mexican traditions, families have the responsibility to keep the memory of loved ones present for as long as possible. Walk through any cemetery and you’ll witness first hand how memories often keep us burdened by the thoughts of this life… what we did here and whether it will get us to the next. Sorry, no amount of flowers — or good deeds — will secure your spot.
Let’s get back to lilies, shall we? Originally native to some islands in Japan, the bulbs were brought to Oregon by WWI soldier, Louis Houghton, who shared them with his gardening friends. Apparently they are very difficult to propigate and Oregon and California are still prime producers. Farmers often work for years to produce enough flowers to properly bloom to supply us with our Easter decorations. (Perhaps I need to appreciate them more). Often referred to as “white-robed apostles of hope,” their colour symbolizes the purity of Christ, who was free from sin. The trumpet shape of the Easter lily represents a trumpet sounding the message that Jesus has risen, and the nature in which lilies grow is symbolic of the resurrection as well: from ugly bulbs that are underground for three years or longer, they become beautiful flowers. This process is reminiscent of Jesus’s brutal death and holy resurrection. Thus, lilies represent rebirth and hope, just as the resurrection does in the Christian faith. (via southern living.com)
They still stink, though. But, I suppose, before I wrinkle up my nose at them, I should be reminded that they may be a fitting symbol to decorate with at Easter. A good reminder of our life in Christ, free of worry and heartache, because He, has indeed, conqured death!