Some people like their lawns uniform, perfect, green, tame. I don’t mind the weeds that pop up, I like the texture and interest they add to the yard; I like the pops of color as they flower in the spring.
Lately I’ve gotten into identifying plants. I even picked up a book called, “Wildflowers of Tennessee, the Ohio Valley, and the Southern Appalachians” and on crisp spring Saturday mornings I like to take it with me out into the yard to see what I can identify.
I find more than I count on: dandelions, common flea bane, lyreleaf sage, common blue violet, purple dead nettle, common yellow wood sorrel, violet wood sorrel, star of bethlehem.
Not only do these so-called weeds have names, most of them are edible and even have medicinal properties. For instance, a dandelion is useful from blossom to root – the flower can be used to make jelly or wine, the leaves added to a salad, the root used to make tea that is said to be good for cleansing the liver.
Violets contain salicylic acid and have large amounts of some vitamins. Plus, they can be made into a beautiful jewel-toned jelly or candied to decorate a cake.
According to the wildflower guide, “Lyreleaf sage is also called Cancerweed because of its medicinal properties. It was made into a salve that was considered a cure for warts and cancer. The leaves and seeds were ingredients in an ointment that was used to cure wounds and sores.”
Learning a name, learning a purpose – it gives value. What was once a pesky weed is now a valuable medicinal herb.
It’s a principle that extends beyond plants…to pretty much anything really. It applies to people too. Sometimes when we see somebody different or unfamiliar we ignore them, dismiss them, try to get rid of them. We want to keep the social circle perfect, uniform, tame. Except these people, they have names and they have purpose: they have value and if we dismiss them we’ll never know the difference.
We identify plants with a field guide, we identify other humans by interaction and conversation. It takes more effort to build a relationship with a human and it makes me wonder if sometimes that’s why I like plants better. But that’s a story for another day.
I want to live my life in a way that takes time to understand the value of unfamiliar things, unfamiliar people. Lord give me the curiosity and courage to honor this way of life.