My front garden this year is spectacular; it’s been blooming since February. Neighbors comment. The man walking his dog tells us they stop every day to look. I want to flag down passing cars and say, “Open your eyes. Come smell the lilies.”
Most of all, I stop to look myself, a dozen times a day. Right now we have the end of the lilies, fierce beauties – orange, maroon, yellow, white, pink. They stood at attention beneath our porch, tall waxy sentinels of creamy petal, thick brown stamen, reddish pollen flecks, and tiny pockets of nectar where the petals fold in at the bottom of the flower.
Lilies like their heads in sun and their feed in shade, in a patch of friendly Shasta daisies that are coming into their own, as are the day lilies, ruffled flirts that beckon the eye and are gone next morning.
I’m much better at living with beauty than visiting it as a tourist. I glaze over in the mountains and on the ocean shore. But standing on my front stairs, holding onto the railing, I lose myself in awe, over and over.
One of the reasons I like to garden is that I must focus on what I’m doing. If I daydream, I’ll put out a plant I planted, not an interloper weed. But I never expect, in the early spring, that my heart will leap at what blooms. Similarly, I understand prayer as a daily practice of focus. But I have no name for the joy in beauty except to call it prayer.