“Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin.” – Luke 12:27 (NRSV)
Maybe the lilies of the field grow without toil, but that sure isn’t true of the ones currently on our chancels. Getting millions of specimens of a narrowly-naturally-distributed southeast Asian plant to open all their little trumpets out of season, far from home, on exactly the same weekend (and a different weekend each year at that) is no joke. Even less so when you realize that each bulb takes three years to bloom.
Over those three years, the slowly developing bulbs are planted, dug up, moved, replanted, checked, replanted again. They say that each bulb will have been touched by a human 40 different times before it’s sent off (though that number might be a Lent-based exaggeration). The bulbs then arrive at commercial greenhouses all over the country, who are even more keenly aware of each year’s Easter date than your pastor is. There, through careful manipulation of temperature, humidity, and other factors, the bulbs are coaxed to bloom just in time to be sent off to churches and chapels everywhere.
And right about the time the Altar Guild decides this year’s flowers are looking ratty and need to be tossed, the staff on a bunch of far-away farms are starting to tend the lilies for Easter 2026, right next to the ones for 2024 and 2025.
Of all the reasons that lilies make good Easter flowers, perhaps the best one is this: they don’t happen accidentally. Or easily. Or quickly. They demand the investment of many lives. They require an extraordinary amount of tending.
Like the resurrection. Like the revolution it portends. Like anything worth proclaiming, or celebrating.
Let me do my part to tend the revolution, and bring it to flower. Amen.
Quinn G. Caldwell is Chaplain of the Protestant Cooperative Ministry at Cornell University. His most recent book is a series of daily reflections for Advent and Christmas called All I Really Want: Readings for a Modern Christmas. Learn more about it and find him on Facebook at Quinn G. Caldwell.