May has brought with it an invasion of green in my area. Trees that had been slow to sprout leaves are now bursting with foliage, covering the landscape in a sea of various green shades. Any grass that had been dormant is now full of deep green color and growing at a very fast rate. The rhododendron, azalea, viburnum, and burning bushes are full of green leaves that wave when the wind blows. Many of the spruce trees, yews, and small needle evergreens are bringing forth new growth, made apparent by the neon green needles protruding from the ends of the deeper green, established branches.
Why So Green?
Seeing all this green around me on my runs, bike rides, and dog walks reminded me of when I first learned about plants in grade school science class. We studied the different plant structures and learned that chlorophyll is responsible for making plants green.
Chlorophyll is a pigment highly involved in photosynthesis, or the process by which plants convert light energy into chemical energy. Chlorophyll absorbs energy from light and uses this energy to convert carbon dioxide to carbohydrates. These carbohydrates are typically a form of sugar, such as glucose, which feeds the plant and allows it to grow. The green color is a result of chlorophyll molecules’ ability to reflect green light waves in the visible spectrum.
Green Leaves and Insect Activities
Along with all the green foliage, May has brought a deluge of crawling creatures, including:
- Stink bugs
These tiny creatures feed upon the foliage or foliage by products to survive. Mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks can be a health hazard to humans, pets, and livestock because they carry germs with them that the body typically cannot fight without medication. As a dog owner and avid outdoors person, I have had to deal with a number of insect issues over the years. The most serious issues were with ticks. Though they are very small creatures, they can cause a lot of grief and damage.
Ticks and Lyme’s Disease
Ticks are parasites that feed of the blood of a host, such as a human or animal. They are arachnids that burrow into skin, releasing chemicals that prevent blood from clotting. Ticks also carry diseases, such as Lyme’s disease, characterized by symptoms of fatigue, fever, severe joint pain, inflammation, headache, and swollen lymph nodes.
My dog, Sadie, gave us a scare when she started limping recently, resulting in an emergency trip to the vet. Upon examination, the vet decided to test Sadie for Lyme’s disease. Though Sadie had no ticks on her, nor had she been bitten by any ticks to my knowledge, the vet and I wanted to make sure Lyme’s disease was not the reason for her sudden ailment.
The test turned out negative, much to our relief, and the final diagnosis was muscle strain due to overexertion. Sadie was given a shot to help alleviate the stiffness in her joints and medication to take away the inflammation causing her pain.
Had Sadie tested positive for Lyme’s disease, treatment would have included antibiotics, such as amoxicillin. She would also have had to rest to regain strength.
Calling for Attention
Sadie’s incident was rather scary and reeled in my focus to what matters most in life. This time of year is always busy with outdoor activities, indoor chores, work, and life in general vying for attention. Though I try to allot appropriate time to each aspect of life, I admit I often fail and need reminded of priorities.
Taking Sadie to the vet meant I had to take off work and stay home to monitor her for part of a day. This turned out to be a great blessing in disguise, for it allowed me some quality time with Sadie and her brother, Leo.
It also enabled me to get some yard work done, enjoy the green in nature, and talk with God. The sky was most beautiful this particular day, and I could not help but think it was God’s way of helping me recharge, refocus, and reevaluate (three R’s not taught in school, yet very important in life).
Attention to Blessings
While walking outside, it occurred to me that maybe God puts forth all the activity in nature in order to call our attention to His blessings. It also occurred to me that He may also put roadblocks in our way for the same reason. Incidents such as Sadie’s illness, a broken lawn mower, or an afternoon thunderstorm can really change our plans (as well as our accomplishments for a given day). However, if we stop for a minute and think about our options, we just may find that there is a better (and maybe even more productive) way to spend our time.
Perhaps this is why Saul was blinded on his way to Damascus. Had this not occurred, Saul may have never realized God’s gifts to him or become St. Paul, one of the great contributors to the early Christian movement and author of thirteen books in the New Testament. Granted, being blinded is a severe event that greatly impacts one’s ability to function. In Saul’s case, God used physical blindness to open Saul’s spiritual eyes and heart, which in essence, made Saul see much better mentally, spiritually, and physically.
Fortunately for Saul, his physical blindness was temporary. If we stop to think about some of our own problems in life, we will realize that they, too, are temporary. Just as the green in nature changes around us, our problems also change over time (and so do we). As stated in the Bible,
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to pluck that which is planted; A time to kill and a time to heal, a time to break down and a time to build up; a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance…” –Ecclesiastes 3:1-4
And as St. Paul stated in his letter to the Corinthians:
“For our light and momentary trouble are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” – 2 Corinthians 4:17-18
May the green of spring draw our attention to aspects of life upon which we need to focus. May this focus lead us to solutions to our problems in time, and may we learn to view what are seen as the bumps in the road along the way as unseen blessings upon which to be thankful.
Blue in the skies above,
Light of the sun,
Early morning quiet time,
Sunsets of glory in the western sky,
Strawberry blossoms floating in the breeze,
Intoxicating lilac scent running free,
New growth from plants all around
Green with hope from the ground,
Such are the blessings each day in the life God creates.
Bobbing leaf in the flowing stream,
Little breeze by the sea,
Energy found in the day,
Simplicity in the sound silence makes,
Stars shining along with the moon,
Intimate song of a bird passing through,
Night time walks alone with God,
Green stalks in the grass by the pond,
Such are the blessings to be found as the world spins around.
Blooming flowers in the landscape
Little rabbits zooming in a race,
Elements and atoms full of motion,
Silent moments reflecting upon many different notions,
Sunrise after a storm,
Intricate light of the dew in the morn,
New days, new dawns, and new skies
Granted through the grace of the Lord divine,
Such are the blessings we can share when we are aware.
-Lisa A. Wisniewski
Resources and Related Links
Chlorophyll – https://www.britannica.com/science/chlorophyll
Lyme’s disease- https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/
Lyme’s disease treatment – http://www.webmd.com/rheumatoid-arthritis/arthritis-lyme-disease?page=2#3
Photosynthesis – http://www.livescience.com/51720-photosynthesis.html