Friday, May 18, 2012

milkweeds in my garden

Waverly, Iowa is a lovely town.  Our German heritage shines through with our street numbering system (oh so very practical - once you learn the system) our comfortable homes and tidy yards.  It may seem like an exaggeration, but everything seems so nice and neat in Waverly, all except the flowerbeds at Trinity, the church I am privledged to serve.

We have two members who are the 'official' church gardeners.  They do a wonderful job caring for our various flower beds.  Two summers ago, my first year in Waverly, I pointed out to them that there was a milkweed in their flowerbed.  Before I could pull it out they both yelled STOP!

I had always thought that Milkweeds (part of the Asclepias family) were pretty, albeit messy plants, and while its great fun in the fall to break open the seed pouch and scatter their silky seeds to the wind, their rightful place is in the ditches of country roads, certainly not a flower bed.

Except, except that Monarch Butterflies depend on milkweeds as a food source for the larvae, aka caterpillars.  More milkweeds = more monarch butterflies!  The world hasn't been so kind to Monarch butterflies.  More and more chemicals are being used in the fields and ditches here in North America, and the forests on the southern end of their migration are facing increasing threats from loggers.

My first summer here we had one milkweed plant, last summer it was two - imagine my surprise when I noticed a plethora of milkweeds in our flowerbed!  That's something to celebrate!  I'm not the only one who is tempted to pull the milkweeds - after all the word 'weed' is in the name of this common plant.  So, now we plant a sign in the flowerbed that says:  "Don't pull out the milkweeds!"  We are good United Methodists and pay attention to signs.

As the church and the world changes at lightening fast speed, I wonder how many other presuppositions need to be looked at again.  How many folks have given up on God, thinking that they are worthless, like our humble milkweeds?  How many people have we overlooked who have gifts that aren't being lifted up and honored?

It seems to me that we need to spend less time racing through our day and more time paying attention to the basics, like milkweeds and monarch butterflies and relationships with folks who may not fit our nice neat expectations.  When we do so I believe we will be richly blessed.

in Christ, together

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