My children love dandelions. They love them bright and yellow like tufts of sunlight. They love them gray white begging to be shaken or kicked, seed pods catching the air currents and drifting to re-populate our yard. Pure childhood joy.
As we walked to a neighbor’s house the other day, my daughter’s hand clung fast to one such yellow puff, and I noticed their pristine hard-won grass un-marred by tell-tale jagged leaves. I remembered that not everyone likes dandelions as much as we do. I stashed the wilting weed into my pocket before she could have the chance to drop it.
We live in a neighborhood of terrible red clay dirt, where getting anything to grow is quite a feat. We spent the first three years as home owners tilling, seeding, fertilizing, and removing rocks just to have something to mow. For some, landscaping is a passion. Money and time are invested to achieve that perfect green lawn. And I must admit, there is a certain beauty there.
I can’t help but think about the poor dandelion, though. I mean, it isn’t ugly. It spreads out, I know, and takes up big spaces. But, that’s just survival. And, did you know you can eat dandelion greens? It is kinda the rage with chefs now.
What about clover? The little ones also love clover for a soft seat in the yard. They love to hunt for four-leaved clovers. The white flowers make excellent chains for crowns and necklaces (Okay, maybe I like them, too.).
And those little purple-flecked wildflowers. I don’t even know what those are, but we have them!
Before you cast aspersion on me and my hippie yard, allow me to work out my metaphor with fear and trembling.
I know the God I serve is the creator of all things. I know that all He created is good. That even the spiders and the ticks and the piranhas have their design and purpose in His kingdom. It was us (just being real) who introduced sin. It was us who took every good thing God created to a wrong extreme: we turned feasts into gluttony, intimacy into fornication, spirituality into religion. When God gave us His law, we worshiped it instead of Him. When He gave us a government of judges and priests, we demanded a human king. When He gave us manna from heaven, we complained for meat.
He gave us plants to enjoy and eat, and we called them weeds. We pull them and burn them and spray them with laboratory chemicals and replace them with cow food because we think it looks better.
(Seriously, stay with me. Metaphor. Sort of.)
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s dandelion? Okay, I’ll compare me. I know I have felt like a dandelion in a grassy yard. I have accepted the idea that God made me beautiful and useful in His sight, but I have not always been beautiful and useful by the world’s estimation. And though now I am strong enough to survive, I was not always. And I wonder how many people we classify and aim to remove because we do not yet see their beauty and usefulness. Because they do not fit in our scheme of the world. Because they do not look like the thousands of identical blades of grass surrounding them.
I am no fool – I recognize sin and evil and the fallen, infested ground. But that darkness on which we must set our sights is spiritual, not carnal. If there is ugliness, there is a dark spiritual root that must be removed. Often, though, I think we just have not learned to see beauty yet. We see in part. We know in part.
I resolve to look for the beauty today, even in things the world labels as weeds. I will look for the usefulness and celebrate it.
And if you happen to come to my home anytime soon, forgive my hippie yard. Focus on the joy on my children’s faces.