This article was taken from “The Canton Chronicle” September 2017, Volume 2017: Issue #6.
Tammy and I recently made our first trek on the new walking/bicycle trail that extends from Lakeland Park to Wallace Park. I’m not sure why we waited so long to check it out. It’s a peaceful place to walk while enjoying the beauty of nature.
Of all things, I noticed immediately how many thistles were growing along the unmown
areas along the trail. I thought, why aren’t these noxious weeds being cut down? Doesn’t the park district know that thistle seed spreads like wildfire? And, who wants prickly thistles growing everywhere?
“I was reminded that a plant I may consider being a weed with no purpose and
should be cut down so that it doesn’t spread has intrinsic value to other parts of God’s creation. So who am I to judge a plant by its prickliness and ability to
As I continued walking I began to change my mind about the thistles. Dotted on and moving among the thistle flowers were dozens of yellow swallowtail butterflies. In that setting the thistles were not weeds but rather a food source for one of nature’s beautiful creatures.
I was reminded that a plant I may consider being a weed with no purpose and should be cut down so that it doesn’t spread has intrinsic value to other parts of God’s creation. So who am I to judge a plant by its prickliness and ability to propagate ubiquitously? The swallowtail butterfly has a completely different view of the thistle than I do and would certainly question my judgment.
People can be like thistles—a little prickly as well as sharing some of their traits and ways with people around them. I’m prompted to remember my high school history teacher. In my eyes I considered him thistle-like. He knew the subject but I didn’t much care to learn about it at that point in my life. Who needed to know anything about history? In my unhealthy and unrealistic view at that time, who needed history
teachers? I accepted the idea that history teachers were unnecessary but he wouldn’t go
away. He continued to teach and share information that others around me soaked up like a sponge and I couldn’t care less about absorbing. Those hungry to learn about history shared not my judgment of our history teacher.
I failed to understand then what I have learned on the journey of life, i.e., that history is the nectar of example. From this sustenance we gain the ability to live into more humane relationships and harmonious ways of being together on this planet. Hopefully history moves us in this direction.
Now that I view the value of history differently, I regret the past judgment I conferred upon my history teacher Who are the prickly people in your life? What lessons do thistles and swallowtail butterflies have in store for you?
I believe Jesus got it right in the parable of the wheat and the weeds (see Matthew 13:34- 30). To pluck out the weeds in the midst of the wheat may take something of value away from another. And, too, we may along the way find value in the plant we falsely accuse
of being a weed.
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