Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Unexpected beauty

Sphaeralcea coccineaThese are the flowers of  scarlet mallow, a low growing plant that shows up in unexpected places here on the prairies, almost hidden among the grass. The plant is only about six inches high, the flowers about a half inch in diameter.

When I was a boy I would ask my Dad what those little red floweres were. He didn’t know and wasn’t interested in knowing either – too busy trying to keep me supplied with food and clothes to take time to wonder about little splashes of beauty.

I spent a good part of my adult life away from the prairies, but after returning sixteen years ago I resolved to solve the mystery of those little red flowers. It didn’t take long to find them, this time right in the city only a few blocks from our home. I bought a prairie wildflower book and finally had a name for it. A new subdivision was planned for the area where I found them, so I dug a few up and moved them to our backyard. We sold that home; perhaps I should find some to trnsplant to where we now live.

I have developed a talent in my working life of being able to find things that spoil the value of whatever they are mixed with. Among other things, I was a grain buyer for about eight years, looking at grain samples to find damaged, discoloured or shrunken kernels. I was a quality assurance inspector in an auto parts factory for fifteen years. Tonight I will be taking part in a three hour conference call of our church’s French proofreading committee, looking for, and finding replacements for, inappropriate words in a translated work.

I’m afraid that tends to carry over into my personal life. I am quick to see the little things that should not be. Perhaps there is some value in that, but such a talent by itself can lead to a rather sour outlook onlife.

There is still something left in me of that little boy who was fascinated by a little flash of beauty in the drab prairie grass. I pray that God would open my eyes to see more of the beauty and goodness around me, in people as well as in the landscape.

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