There is a vine that has started to grow wild in the natural area of our back yard – an invasive vine that seems bent on strangling anything in its path to reach the sun. When the conditions are right it can grow a foot in a day. We have mature pine and oak trees that have given this vine opportunity to thrive and reach to great heights. But there was a threat to this vine, and that was ME after I discovered its efforts to take over the area. I began to pull. My husband especially thinks it is fun to pull the vines down. We try to pull the vine gently out of the trees and bushes without breaking it. Many times we have been successful at pulling down vines that have grown upwards about 20 feet. I have tried to stay on top of the pulling so that the other varieties of plant life can survive. This went on for months. And then…
The first time I saw its intricate bloom, I gasped! The flower is about 3” in diameter. I did some research and discovered this vine is named the Passion Flower. I wondered how it got its name, guessing it was named for its passionate journey upward, so determined, in such a hurry. Later I discovered that the name comes from sacred symbolism that points to the passion of Jesus in Christian theology. Read more: symbolism of the passion flower
Now I have mixed emotions about pulling out the vine. This must be God’s way of giving it a chance to survive and even thrive. Many “weeds” are beautiful, fascinating creative works of God, just growing unappreciated in the wrong place.
Now I see what I had been missing. Something is hidden inside its DNA – a plan to startle the world with beauty. This plant that I did not want, that I wanted to get rid of, blessed me with a surprise gift. I see something else – a metaphor for some people I have met in my own journey to thrive. There is beauty in each of God’s children He has created. Sometimes the beauty is hidden behind mental illness. I am thinking of a man with Down’s Syndrome who exudes unconditional love and compassion for others. I remember a woman who was, at best, tolerated by the people in our church and community who could not understand her because she was so needy from mental and emotional illness. But this woman worked harder than anyone I knew to heal and to grow in her faith, and after God worked spiritual and emotional healing, her light shines and gives testimony that God can heal and that everyone has a purpose. There is a young man I know well who is brilliant but socially awkward diagnosed with autism. Another brilliant man is gentle and kind but “planted” in a social system that makes him suspect due to his appearance.
Perhaps if we are patient and not too quick to write off the people that inconvenience us or that seem to have nothing to offer us… perhaps if we look beyond the obvious glaring characteristic that irritates us, maybe we will be rewarded with a rare treasure like the bloom of the Passion Flower.
And hopefully, when we ourselves have aged or our bodies become broken or our minds have lost the sharpness they once had or we have been left with emotional scars by the carelessness or even violence of another, maybe there will be someone who looks deeper within us to see the treasures stored behind the obvious.
And how do we see ourselves? Are we able to see the beauty that God has placed within us? The potential? Our usefulness, even though we are not perfect? Let us not give up on ourselves or another person without looking with new eyes or perhaps looking again in new seasons for the new thing God is doing. Let us go treasure hunting and be blessed in the discovery of the mysteries of God in nature and among the children he has created, redeemed, and blessed with purpose.
Note: The Passion Flower attracks the Gulf Fritillary butterfly that feeds exclusively on its nectar. I found this picture on Wikipedia. I’ll keep you posted if I find a caterpillar or chrysalis.