“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin…” – Matthew 6:28 (NRSV)
As the evening wind picks up on the Mississippi, I am trying to clean the water lily roots off my kayak and the river muck off myself, while I check my trusty inflatable kayak for a possible leak. As I try to read the minuscule instructions on a dried-up tube of adhesive, I force myself to stop and give thanks that at least I made it to shore.
Then I catch the reflection of the setting sun on Mud Lake, and it is so beautiful I feel like a blasphemer for ever having complained at all. Before me is a stunning Monet painting of water lilies, where bright wildflowers pose against the limestone bluffs. Turtle families let you paddle within feet of them before diving into the water.
Mud Lake is a back channel of the Mississippi, but it could be mistaken for a clear lake when conditions are perfect. Conditions are rarely perfect, which may be why they named it Mud Lake. With such a name, there are low expectations. No one will ever sue you for false advertising or want their money back. No one would even want to go. Maybe that is the point. Keep it to ourselves.
A lot of our churches could be named Mud Lake. Nothing special. Nothing to get excited about. Play it safe. Keep it to ourselves. Why not?
When I was new to kayaking, I would never have discovered Mud Lake unless someone had told me what it felt like, smelled like, and what the water lilies looked like. Even then, I would have argued that I had seen Monet’s paintings. Unless someone had brought me there in person, I would never have seen the lilies, as they are here, rather than in a painting. The only way to discover them was upon arrival.
So now I am telling you about Mud Lake. Spread the word.
Spread the word. Amen.
Lillian Daniel is a preacher, teacher and writer in Iowa who aspires to be a shepherdess on the green.