My family moved a number of times when I was a child. The first home I remember was near the center of Toronto, a little house that has long since been torn down and replaced by a modern monster. From there we moved to one of the city’s up-and-coming eastern suburbs where we had an older home on a larger property, then to one of its established western suburbs where we had a very normal home on a very normal suburban property. But wherever we lived, whatever the size of our home or land, one thing remained constant—we always had the best gardens in the neighborhood.
We had the best gardens because my father was a landscaper, an artist whose medium was soil, grass, trees, and flowers. He would have considered himself a hypocrite had he made other properties beautiful but not his own, so in that way our home was always a display of his authenticity, a showcase of his ability, an expression of his artistry.
My favorite was the one in Unionville, the one that had the largest home and the biggest gardens. The front yard was a work of special beauty, and it was not unusual to spot passersby standing at the curbside to simply admire it. Dad had laid a curving brick pathway that led from the front door to the towering trees that lined the road, and beside it he had created a rock garden filled with flowers that were specially chosen to bloom at different times of the season—a mix of perennials and annuals, of green shrubs and blooming flowers. It was a work of art.
My favorite spot was the great patch of daylilies, and I’ve never lost the wonder of them. Though a single daylily may produce many blooms, each individual flower is on display for just one day. Under the warmth of the morning sun a bud begins to open and petals spread wide to display bright orange blooms and great protruding stamen. For a day they are swarmed by bees and hummingbirds who hungrily consume their nectar and busily carry off their pollen. The flowers remain open and beautiful through the afternoon and into the evening. But as night falls, as the light fades, as the evening chill settles in, they wither and fade. By morning they are a husk, a shell of their former selves. They are, quite literally, here today and gone tomorrow. There is but one short day to admire their beauty.
Life is often like a daylily in that each new day opens fresh opportunities to do good to the people around us—opportunities that often wither and fade before the darkness of evening. Each new day introduces its occasions to love and serve others and these occasions will be gone if they are not embraced before the day draws to its close. The good we can do on Tuesday is often no longer possible on Wednesday. It falls to us, then, to welcome the day’s duties, to do whatever good we can, to not put off until tomorrow the good we ought to do today.
Each new day brings the daylily its blooms; each new day brings the Christian his duties. When it comes to the duty we have to our fellow man—the duty of doing good to others for the glory of God—there is no yesterday and no tomorrow. There is only ever this day, there is only ever today.