Cut Flowers

yellowroses-bouquetEvery woman admires a bouquet of flowers, assuming she is not violently allergic to pollen. I try to keep mine going as long as possible: putting them in the fridge overnight, changing to water, and adding preservative to the water. With the most important roses I have even hung them upside down to dry in the closet.

Despite the best practices, petals will drop off and the leaves wilt. We dump the deflated pretties in the trash or out on the compost heap. Ah, well, ’tis the way of life.

I heard Frederica Mathewes-Green compare cut flowers with something you might not expect: Spiritual Disciplines.

How can the two be similar?

Let’s take an example of…oh…say…headcovering as a spiritual discipline. There is much that I have said (or others have described more eloquently) about the many admirable facets of covering one’s head and body to honor Christ. We pretty much agree, it is a beautiful thing, like a dozen freshly cut roses from your grandmother’s garden. You can put on a covering and a long dress; people laud you, though they might disagree with you on the application of Scripture. You look and feel like you are doing the “right thing”.

Then the clock ticks by the days, weeks, and years.

Are you still covering? Are you still wearing a dress?

Are you still the only one in your church wearing them?

If the answers are, No, No, and if you are still wearing them, Yes:  you have a Cut Flowers Dilemma.

When a spiritual discipline is carved, chopped, plucked, or what-have-you from the Roots, i.e. the organic, physical, recognizable Body of Christ on Earth, it will begin to stink after a while. You chuck it because it might not be “…the Lord’s leading” for you anymore or some such excuse. In reality, there is no connection of the discipline with the life source God has provided to sustain our spiritual growth: the Church, past, present and future tense.

[My Protestant friends…yes…you are shocked, angry, sad, confused…just read on. I am getting you to think about what you are doing.]

The best other analogy I can think of is that of disciplining a child within the context of a healthy family structure. Your three year old does not simply wake up one day and tells you that she will listen to you perfectly, make her bed, dress herself, and memorize the alphabet all on her own. No, it takes years of careful training to raise up a child into respectful, humble, responsible adults.

The same can be said for the spiritual training of Christians. We do not come to the point where we can operate on auto-pilot, gleaning the goodness out of the Bible and applying it to our lives without mistake. God gave us the Church, past and present, to ground us in the Way of Life. We are not urchins trying to raise ourselves on the streets.

“But I am doing just fine, thank you, my church practices headcovering [insert other disicplines like fasting, etc.]”

Yes, well and true, there are scattered groups who cling to various expressions of these things. But what is one of the chief complaints in these churches? “The children do not follow us. People fall away to ‘liberal’ groups.” You are always on ferocious guard to keep everyone toeing your particular interpretation of the line.

Other expressions of the Cut Flower Dilemma are passing fads:

“Join the Fasting Movement!” (OH, I just about laughed myself off the chair when I saw this on tv.)

Hebraic things, Worship Music variances, BOOKS, Concernts of Prayer, 24 hour prayer, etc.

I am guilty of following the latest and greatest. Each wave of the new stuff left me even more famished or thirsty than the one before. These things will not satisfy because it is all up to me to pick and choose.

Cut Flowers.

I will be going into the garden where all has been set out and tended for millenia.


7 Responses to “Cut Flowers”

  1. 1 amberpeace January 15, 2009 at 6:49 pm

    Fads, especially books – I am skeptical of widly popular books when they come out. I tend to wait years until I read them, so I don’t waste my time. I’m just now about to read Blue Like Jazz.

  2. 2 alana January 15, 2009 at 7:20 pm

    I was at a home schooling nite the other evening, and the speaker mentioned a plethora of great trendy “spiritual reads” that I was utterly unfamiliar with.

    I’m happy to be out of that loop.

  3. 3 goldilocks January 16, 2009 at 10:34 am

    Orthodox church, huh? I know a few people who’ve gone Orthodox via the internet, but nobody IRL. I wish you the best on your journey to life in Christ!

  4. 4 LisaM January 16, 2009 at 11:34 am

    What is the “my protestant friends” reference? Doesn’t this apply to every follower of Christ of any branch, where the tradition or behavior becomes cut off from why it’s done and then gets abandoned? Or perhaps not abandoned, but still, even if it’s toted around after it’s cut off from the spiritual reason behind it, doing something just because … , can still stink.

  5. 5 Anna January 16, 2009 at 11:37 am

    Good Point, Lisa. I speak from a Protestant background and my points were meant for that audience….but it can be meant for everyone. 🙂

  6. 6 LisaM January 16, 2009 at 4:19 pm

    Thank you for responding, Anna. I hoped I didn’t come across wrong. 🙂

  7. 7 Auntie Em January 21, 2009 at 5:39 pm

    But what is one of the chief complaints in these churches? “The children do not follow us. People fall away to ‘liberal’ groups.”

    This is so true; we must teach and live what we teach to our children, helping them develop a communication with Jesus, their Savior. Taking time to discuss attitudes in little children, and how such attitudes affect how we feel and that ‘sin’ affects us, etc… I’ve seen children RAISED this way, and they come to KNOW the Lord, truly. You may read some on this subject on my blog, under Child Training.

    I really like your symbolisms; as all created things are such to the spiritual eye following Truth. I shall link to the gal you mentioned in the beginning…
    Blessings! May we be faithful in heart and lifestyle choices.
    Auntie eM

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"I can't say I don't believe in your God, but I don't believe He meant the world to be as it is." ~Nicholas Higgins. North and South.

"I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you are licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what." No idea where that last quote came from, but I like it!

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