As I pedaled and biked through the humidity this past week, I found solace in the quiet of the early dawn and twilight hours. The gentle breezes blowing helped lift my soul and kept me cooler through the miles. As I strained to find new things within the landscape, I discovered two patches of trumpet creeper (Campsis radicans). The trumpet-shaped reddish orange flowers stood out from the climbing mass of leaves, reminding me of the following responsorial psalm used in the Catholic mass for the Ascension of the Lord:
“God mounts His throne to shouts of joy, a blare of trumpets for the Lord.” – Based on Psalm 47
Vines of Faith
Not only are the flowers like trumpets, but also the vine is able to climb with support, usually through the help of a tree in the wild or a trellis if cultivated. The rising vine really has no bounds, just as the Lord has no boundaries to His mighty powers and grace.
Similarly, if we have faith and open our lives to God, we can achieve the impossible, overcome the seemingly insurmountable, and withstand the storms of life. Our faith acts as our supporting structure, allowing us to lean on it as needed, and even when we seem to not need it. Like the trumpet vine stalk, our faith weaves its way throughout our lives, fed by the truth and the light.
Vines of Frustration
This week seemed to be the week all the vines in my area made themselves visible. In addition to the trumpet creeper, I noticed poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) growing out of control in the woods and along the roads, and poison oak (Toxicondendron diversiloba) can be found climbing up the trunks of trees and over fallen logs.
Though these vines do not have large, showy flowers like the trumpet vine, they do have showy leaves which can help identify them. Poison ivy is known for its pointed three leaf formation, and poison oak for its lobed, round-toothed leaves. The main issue with poison ivy and poison oak is the oil the plants produce, which is a known skin irritant that can cause a major rash and discomfort, especially in the hear and humidity of summer.
Seeing the poison ivy and poison oak made me wonder why God would create such a nuisance plant. In my pondering of possible reasons, I came to the conclusion that like weeds, God creates things to make us stop, look, and learn. Though the stopping may not be convenient, the looking may not yield a pleasant sight, and the learning may entail a hard lesson, the exercise helps build character, strength, and faith, all of which are needed upon the journey.
Walking Along Discovering Summer’s Song
During my walks and while mowing the yard, I discovered the weeds of summer have taken up residence pretty much everywhere. Some of the weeds pop up over night, others take their time to slowly spread along the ground. All of them remind me that there is still work to do to keep both the physical and metaphorical weeds at bay in life.
Weeds of note I found include:
- Common purslane, which looks similar to cultivated portulaca, but has rounder, broader leaves
- Broadleaf plantain, known for its thick, leathery leaves and tall flower stems
- Gill-over-the-ground, known for its scalloped, heart-shaped leaves, pungent odor when cut, and vine-like growth
- White clover, known for its three-leaf formation and bee-attracting properties
The carefree appearance of each weed standing in the sunlight beneath the blue sky reminded me that there are times in life for both work and play. We can enjoy our times of work and play if we open our minds and allow our hearts to feel the graces granted to us. We can also find peace, energy, and understanding in nature around us as we listen to summer’s songs both literally and figuratively.
May the sights and sounds of summer allow us to see both God and our faith at work. May the weeds of life not permanently detour us from our destination, and may summers song be heard deep within the mind, body, and soul.
Through Summer’s Song
Sunset in the rain, pink and purple with delight
Singing the refrains of the angels in the sky
Watching over earth between the clouds
As the waters in the seas spins around
Keeping time to the beat that flows
Within the rhyme as the lyrics go
Through summer’s song upon the way
Of the path moving along to heaven’s gates.
Sunrise in the dawn, bright orange and gold
Casting light upon the flowers as they unfold
To greet the rays with open arms
As night fades with the stars
To begin the day anew
Within the sequins of the dew
Sparkling through summer’s song upon the way
As Springsteen strums his guitar in Born in the USA.
Midday clouds within the blue sea
Moving about with graceful ease,
Dancing and swaying to the music so soft
Whispered in the grace of God
Riding the breeze up and down
In perfect harmony with the blessed sound
Of silence through summer’s song upon the way
Leading the soul along the path it must take.
-Lisa A. Wisniewski
Resources and Related Links
Ascension of the Lord – http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/050516-ascension.cfm
Broadleaf plantain – http://www.oardc.ohio-state.edu/weedguide/single_weed.php?id=110
Common purslane – http://www.illinoiswildflowers.info/weeds/plants/purslane.htm
Gill-over-the-ground – https://www.nps.gov/plants/alien/pubs/midatlantic/glhe.htm
Trumpet creeper – https://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=cara2