Emily Dickinson and the Commandment She Kept.

And then, of course, the New Testament tells us to stop, look, and listen again. I think of Jesus, and I think of Emily Dickinson, of all people, who said a wonderful thing in a letter she wrote: “You know, there is only one commandment I have never broken”—which is wonderful, for I can’t imagine Emily Dickinson breaking any commandments, though I’m certain she has broken as many as the rest of us—”and that is the commandment, ‘Consider the lilies of the field.’ ” Wonderful. She is referring of course, to what Jesus says to the crowd on the hillside—”Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these” (Matthew 6:28-29).

It’s a joke, in a way, the thought of commandments like this, but in another way it is the kind of commandment that it seems to me Jesus gives in different ways again and again, that this life is, in a way, a parable: Consider the lilies of the field. Consider what it was to find that thing you had lost, that coin, that ring your mother gave you, that photograph that could not be replaced and suddenly it is there. Consider your heart itself…consider that. Consider the lost sheep. Consider the dead sparrow. Consider the way leaven works in bread. Consider the way seeds grow, that tiny little bit of a seed that grows and grows and grows until it’s a tree as big as Texas.

Pay attention to these things.

And of course, Jesus says that the greatest commandment is this: loving God and loving our neighbors. I don’t know what it means to love God—really, I’m not all that good at it—but I think one of the things it means is, just as in the case of loving anybody else, you stop and watch and wait. Listen for God, stop and watch and wait for him. To love God means to pay attention, be mindful, be open to the possibility that God is with you in ways that, unless you have your eyes open, you may never glimpse. He speaks words that, unless you have your ears open, you may never hear.

Draw near to him as best you can.



Frederick Buechner, The Remarkable Ordinary, pp.36-37.