John 11:45-46 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
The Plot to Kill Jesus
45 Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him. 46 But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what he had done.
Lazarus was raised from the dead! What an incredible miracle of the divine infusing life into our dead world. And so begins our first steps into Holy Week where we will reflect on how we have experienced new life in previously dead places.
Jesus astonishes everyone. Again. Who is this man that can even bring life into the void of lifeless darkness? This is no mere man.
Let’s take a turn and talk about flowers for a minute.
Wikipedia defines the word “Florilegium” like this:
In medieval Latin a florilegium (plural florilegia) was a compilation of excerpts from other writings. The word is from the Latin flos (flower) and legere (to gather): literally a gathering of flowers, or collection of fine extracts from the body of a larger work. It was adapted from the Greek anthologia (ἀνθολογία) “anthology“, with the same etymological meaning.
Medieval Florilegia were compositions of extracts from other writings used to illustrate certain topics, doctrines or themes. These extracts were like today’s modern equivalent of highlighting a book and compiling the quotes for reflection later.
What are the extracts in your life that are worthy of highlight? Where has Jesus raised YOU from the dead? Where has light broken into the darkness? Where are the moments in your life where you know-that-you-know-that-you-know that you encountered Jesus?
Many of the Jews that had come with Mary and had actually seen what happened with their own two eyes, believed in him (paraphrase and emphasis mine, verse 46). Even some reported these deeds to the Pharisees.
Whether you saw and believed, or saw and reported, something happened. Flowers grew in previously desolate places. New life emerged.
Where has Jesus grown flowers in previously dead places in your life?
What would it look like for you to remember these places of new life frequently? Hebrews 11 and 12 point to buttressing our faith through recalling and proclaiming what God has done. How can you get into a rhythm that would help you to frequently remember, praise and proclaim in your life?
I have two journals. One I use for daily reflection, questioning, study, recording life events, sensing movements of God, etc.
The other is my Troy Walling’s Florilegium Journal. This is the place I record the various encounters, lived out experiences, answers to prayers, occasions of felt sense of union with God, etc. that have occurred as I walk with Jesus.
Like a traditional florilegium that seeks to gather the most beautiful flower in an expanse of wildflowers, and bring that flower along with the other most beautiful ones gathered from other fields, and then finally arrange them all together to form a vibrant bouquet, this kind of journal is a gathering place of all the times new life broke into my dead life, all the times God shone His face upon me, and all the times I believed. This kind of journal builds an altar on holy ground.
Consider starting your own <Your Name’s> Florilegium Journal or whatever you want to call it.
Spend a few days (even weeks) reflecting on all the times you knew God was with you in that moment. Write of the circumstances that were present prior to this beautiful encounter you may have chosen to write about. How long prior was there a current flowing that led to this? Record your thoughts and memories, even struggles that led to this place. Write down dates, times, feelings, people, prayers, etc. Write down what you sensed with all your senses: Was the day hot? Was it raining? What did you hear? What did you see? What happened afterwards in the ensuing days, weeks or months. What has changed about you and your life?
Color, paint, draw, write a poem! Make this as unique to your life and style as Jesus is unique among humanity. Your entries should be only a few. Each person is different but God tends to best be experienced in the mundane, everyday realities of life and we must be careful to live our life there and not seek to fill our new journal with manufactured experiences.
However, He does give us a handful of the most perfect flowers every once in awhile as a gift and faith-building reminder. This is because once a portal and connection to His love and the Kingdom has opened in your life, it remains open. It remains a continuiing source of life. There is no need to self-create more portals. God only needs a sliver of opening. Like the altars built in the Old Testament, these are ongoing places of life that we can return to often. Enter those experiences that seem like this sort of holy ground to you.
Get into a rhythm of reviewing this prayerfully once per year, or once per quarter, or whatever rhythm works for you. I personally open mine and read through, remember, proclaim and praise God at least once per year and whenever I’m drawn to add a new entry, which I do carefully and when it seems to be lived out and ripened.
Like with any journal, this journal is meant to be private, between you and God alone.
Like a field of wildflowers, all of our life is beautiful. Even the most boring aspects are shot through with God’s glory if only we could see. But, God often draws our attention to one healed Lazarus, or one singularly beautiful flower where we can move so close in we can see the threads of color that stitch and hold the petals together. We can nearly see the pollen if we look closely enough. We can see the life pulsing through the veins carrying life giving water to beauty.
As you walk through the wildflower fields of your beautiful life, enjoy noting where God has drawn your attention with an outstretched hand holding a singular, spectacular flower bearing the beauty He sees in you.
Beautiful artwork image from the artist Su Blackwell. Purchase her work here.