What is the difference between a weed and a wildflower? For the early years of my life, I thought there was a difference. The flowers blooming along the side of the road that were not cultivated were obviously weeds. Even the delicate blossoms that covered my lawn when it was in dire need of being mowed were obviously weeds.
Then in the summer of 1971, I worked in Glacier National Park. In the bookstore was a guidebook to the wildflowers of the park. I was amazed to realize that all the growth along the roads and trails were not weeds but wildflowers. Those blossoms that I had overlooked for so long were actually cataloged and photographed in this book. It was an eye-opening experience! What I had considered trash was considered by others as treasure. They actually sought out these plants.
In 1975, I was living in the Fargo, ND area and there was an article in the newspaper about a portion of a nearby Minnesota state park. It was identified as one of the few areas of virgin prairie left in the region. It had never been cultivated. I went to look at it and it was just an empty field of tall grass, although it was also home to foxes and birds and other forms of life. Again, it was something that I would have overlooked, had not someone shown its value.
And so it is in life. There are things in our lives that we take for granted or do not even recognize. Yet they can be remarkable and precious when seen properly. When we begin to see life as a gift of the Creator, we then see what a wonderful gift we have received and how special it all is.
For a long time, all I thought of as day lilies were the orange blossoms that sometimes grew on abandoned lots. They were colorful, but not very special. Then, when we built our present home, we began to look for flowers and bushes to beautify the landscape. A friend suggested we go see the “day lily lady” down the road. This woman loved day lilies and had cultivated hundreds of varieties. We ended up getting several different varieties and then went back the next year for more. Now they are the pride of our home. For nearly twenty years these hardy plants have graced our home. Every year at this time, I get excited as I await their arrival. They only last a short time, but the time they do is glorious.
I later learned that the difference between a weed and a cherished plant is location. Any plant can be a weed if it grows where it is not wanted. But almost every plant can also be a prized landscape article.
When I was young, there was a comic strip called “Miss Peach” about a teacher and her young students. One of the kids, Arthur, had a fenced in “garden” that was labeled “Arthur’s Weed Patch”. The rest of the students did not understand, but to Arthur, those weeds were precious. He loved his weeds like I love my day lilies or another friend loves her roses.
Last week a lovely yellow blossom (not a dandelion) was growing in the middle of my back yard. It was right in the middle of the grass, so I had to mow it down (although I took a picture before I did).
The difference between a weed and a flower is our perspective. The same is true of people. Sometimes people in our lives are seen as weeds and not valued very highly. But if we take time to get to know them, we may find that they are precious flowers that make our lives more beautiful, not weeds that need to destroyed.