One of the members of yesterday morning’s friendly congregation brought in daylilies from her garden, to accessorize the sanctuary for Father’s Day. Really lovely ones, in hybrid colors: bright red, clear lemon yellow, a kind of dusky melon. We talked about daylilies for several minutes. Because people who love daylilies – like Jesus, let’s not forget – DO like to talk about them.
Who planted them around our houses. [Often, it will turn out, a cherished relative. Dad. Mom. …]
Where they planted them, and when, and why just there.
Where we have divided and moved them to, when, and how they are doing there.
Her father had planted these, in scattered places, front, back, side. But in another life, she had some of those wild orange ones, that she had rescued from a spot under a drainspout, under duress. The refugees, relocated to the sunny side of a wall, had spread out and filled it all in. Daylilies are like that, if you give them sun and space.
“People were here,” she said. “You see them, and you know: people were here.”
Mine bloom behind the garage, a deep stripy pink with yellow centers and ruffly fringed petals. Their real name long ago slipped from my memory. They have survived clueless boys with weed eaters and the occasional bout of neglect and the slow, stealthy creep of the shade from the trees on the other side of the driveway, and so far they have prevailed. They have been joined by other plants as time has passed, but not supplanted.
They came from The Daylily Sale. Some special members of our congregation organized The Daylily Sale, one year when it looked like the congregation was going to fall short on mission giving and needed to get creative about fundraising. The organizers had an extensive collection of heirloom daylilies, which perennially needed dividing [yes, that was on purpose]. So the daylilies became church daylilies, and the dividing and potting into 1-quart plastic tubs and selling for a good cause became a church project.
The Daylily Sale was such a success, as well as such a delight for such a lot of people, that it took on a life of its own for years. Only God knows how many daylilies now dispersed around Harrison County, Indiana began their journey there, but the number must be big: a blessing that keeps on blessing.
Daylilies are not the worst metaphor for the church, come to that. They are tenacious and indomitable. Their roots are thick, tough, and persistent. They will put up with clay, and make the best of it. They do not need fancy digs. They assemble in places that almost escape notice – drainage ditches and roadsides and the margins of fields – and suddenly turn them into outposts of the kingdom of heaven, harmonizing with cornflowers and queen anne’s lace in exuberant choirs, praising the Creator to the summer skies.
Images: “Orange day-lilies blooming along Franklin Farm Road between Old Dairy Road and Stone Heather Drive in the Franklin Farm section of Oak Hill, Fairfax County, Virginia,” Famartin, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons [and a quick note of thanks to Famartin, whose nature photography is beautiful, and also reliably synchronized with the seasonally unfolding flora of Harrison County, Indiana, which is evidently habitat kin to Fairfax County, Virginia]; Daylily mid-June, own work, public domain