My father was my inspiration when it comes to my fascination for the natural world. Dad grew up in the woods and, even in his 60’s and 70’s, spent all the time he could spare hiking. I expect that some of you who are reading this have been on some of my father’s famous hikes.
He used to take his teenage and young adult Bible classes on hikes to Little River Canyon and Seven Room Rock in Alabama. As he led hikers through the woods, Dad would reveal some of nature’s beautiful secrets and use them as visual aids to teach spiritual lessons that those with him on these wonderful occasions would not soon forget.
For example, he would show us the Bellwort, which was a plant with a small trumpet-shaped flower which always hung down. When you looked at the plant, you only saw the insignificant-looking bottom of the flower. But if you took the time to lift it up, you discovered that the small blossom was really beautiful. Dad would then use the bellwort to teach us what true humility was.
One day Dad showed me the flower of the Dracunculus Vulgaris plant, also known as the Green Dragon. It was a very large, fantastically attractive flower that was like nothing I had ever seen. “Why don’t you take a closer look?” my father suggested. As I stepped up next to the amazing blossom, I was suddenly hit with the smell of rotting meat.
“What is that smell?” I gasped as I quickly stepped away. My father laughed and told me that it was the Green Dragon. Most plants smell sweet to attract bees and butterflies to pollinate them, but the green dragon uses a rotten smell to attract flies, which are the insects that move its pollen. Dad used both the remarkable beauty and the rotten smell of the Green Dragon to teach me to avoid hypocrisy. Dad said to make sure that I “smell” as good on the inside as I might look on the outside.
Dad’s lessons inspired me to learn more about God’s natural world, especially the amazing plants that grow there and how they might be used. So if you’re bored, why don’t you pick up a copy of Peterson’s Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants at the library and spend a couple of hours walking in the woods? You’ll be amazed at what you will learn.
Thanks for reading, and if you make any interesting discoveries out in the woods, tell me about it. I might use it in a story.
Blessings to all,