On coral bells and anxiety.

We have coral bells in our yard. On the mound which covers the stumps of two pine trees we cut a couple decades ago, mixed with columbine and ground cover. In front of the house mixed with the Russian sage and iris and purple coneflowers. By the deck mixed with the coneflowers and daisies and clematis.

I like the bigger flowers, the brighter colors. I’ve neglected the coral bells. They were flowers that Nancy liked, and since I love Nancy, I acknowledge their existence and right to be part of the landscape.

Until this year.

This year, finally, I realized that hummingbirds appreciate coral bells even more than Nancy does.

The tiny flowers have little visual significance in the landscape, a haze at best. But they are rich in nectar, easily accessible to the hummingbirds, themselves tiny birds.

Some of us worry about significance. We work to expand influence. We think about building bigger platforms to feed larger audiences. We neglect the significance of coral bells to hummingbirds.  


In a conversation Jesus had several times with his followers about the anxiety we have about having enough, Jesus suggested that they consider the birds, consider the flowers.

He includes a lesson about provision. The wild birds and the wild plants live in a creation that provides for them. But I wish we had a sense of timing in those conversations. Was Jesus preaching against a clock, fitting the whole sermon into 20 minutes? Or did he stop from time to time to allow reflection?

“Look at those lilies.” And then he stopped and looked.

And while they were looking, he spent time reflecting on color selection in the creation process. He thought about the way that the coral bells and hummingbirds worked together. He thought at a level of simplicity and complexity beyond what we can imagine, an appreciation for beauty and interdependence and delight.

In the silence, some of them dozed. Some of them wondered when he would get to the point. But some of them considered the lilies.

Eventually he started talking again about how much God cared for them, far beyond the care for the flowers.

Some of them woke up, confused. Some of them thought they understood the lesson. But some of them thought (maybe then, maybe later), “This is God seeing again how good the flowers and bird are. And he looks at me with even more appreciation than that.”

And in our anxiousness we begin to feel appreciation from God.