Then God said, “Let the land sprout with vegetation—every sort of seed-bearing plant, and trees that grow seed-bearing fruit. These seeds will then produce the kinds of plants and trees from which they came.” And that is what happened. The land produced vegetation—all sorts of seed-bearing plants, and trees with seed-bearing fruit. Their seeds produced plants and trees of the same kind. And God saw that it was good. [Genesis 1:11-12 (NLT)]
As much as I enjoy the beauty of garden flowers, I search out the wildflowers. Recently, I spotted something that looked like it should be called “helicopter plant” since its florets look like a helicopter’s rotors. When I showed it to a naturalist, she quickly dismissed it: “Why, that’s just a weed!” Granted, what I call flowers may be weeds to other people but weeds are just flowers that tend to show up where they’re not appreciated. As it turns out, it was the floret of something called Egyptian Crowfoot Grass (officially Dactyloctenium aegyptium). While it may be just a weed to many people, it is a food in Africa and India. Although not a traditional crop, it is considered a “famine food” and provides valuable nourishment during times of famine. When its highly nutritious seeds are collected, roasted, ground into a flour, and used in a porridge, this unappreciated weed can sustain life.
Some people are a little like Crowfoot Grass and the rest of the unique and unappreciated weeds I think of as flowers—they have hidden value and are worthy of love and respect. Like weeds, they don’t grow in rows like the rest of the garden plants and, being different, they don’t seem to belong where they’ve been planted. We could describe them as unorthodox, unconventional or quirky. Saying they march to a different drummer, we label them as odd ducks or eccentrics but we also use words that aren’t nearly so nice. We tend to define “normal” and “conventional” by the way we choose to live; someone else might think we’re a bit odd ourselves!
I think some of God’s best work is evident in his wildflowers and the same might be said for their human equivalents. Following God’s instruction, Isaiah went around naked and barefoot for three years, Jeremiah wore an ox yoke, and Hosea married a prostitute. John the Baptist strictly adhered to the asceticism of the Nazirites, wore camel’s hair garments, and ate locusts and wild honey. Odd ducks all, but they were some of God’s best.
Let’s never make the error of failing to appreciate the value and beauty of those special people who are out of the ordinary—the ones who, like weeds, aren’t like the others around them. Take the time to look for and appreciate the wildflowers growing in the ground and the wildflowers that you meet in this garden called life.
A weed is no more than a flower in disguise, Which is seen through at once, if love give a man eyes. [James Russell Lowell]
Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them. [A.A. Milne]