I Was Warned But Didn’t Listen

Three years ago, I blogged with joy about how we turned Velvetleaf into a beautiful indoor arrangement. You remember the story: My mother and I discovered this unwanted, invasive, terrible weed in the pumpkin patch at the fruit farm.

velvet leafWe created the most lovely bouquet. I boasted about how living with flair meant turning the obnoxious weed that nobody wanted into something beautiful.

Velvet leaf in houseBut if you remember the story, the farmer warned us: “You do not want this anywhere near your home! Even one seed will destroy your yard! You can never get rid of velvetleaf. Don’t do it.”

I did it. And in summer, I threw the bouquet into the compost bin next to my berry patch because I wanted something fresh for my living room. I hadn’t been to my berry patch for a month or so, and I venture out this morning to find this:

IMG_6654I was warned and didn’t listen. Velvetleaf now covers my berry patch. My poor strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries. Immediately, I remembered with shame how even a little sin—something that seems beautiful that nevertheless plants a seed into the heart—will take over my life and choke the landscape of my soul. I remember how David cried out in Psalm 139: “Search me, O God, and know my heart. Try me and know my anxious thoughts. Find out if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting!”

Velvet leaf—such a small, harmless looking thing—harbors toxins that destroy plants, blocks light from your crop, stays viable in soil for 50 years, is highly competitive with anything around it, knows how to block herbicides, releases chemicals to starve other plants, and if you crush it, it thrives.

I remember the warning from the farmer I never heeded today. And I praise God that “He is faithful and just to forgive our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

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Christmas Estuary

Estuary Mouth

Yesterday, I read a book that mentions the word estuary.  An estuary is the part of a river that nears the sea.  In an estuary, salt water and fresh water mix.  As one of the most curious habitats, estuaries house creatures that learn how to live in impossible contradiction; they must survive in overlapping environments–fresh and saline.

Salmon, for example.  Salmon start their lives in freshwater, but they were made for the ocean.  Something enables them to get there.  I read about how when salmon transition between freshwater and the sea, the cellular structure of their gills changes.  The gills learn to secrete salts (not absorb them) just like a normal salt water fish.  The process has a name:  osmoregulate.

A new verb!  Osmoregulate means to maintain that perfect balance–that harmony–necessary to live in environments that threaten to either dilute or saturate the body.  And in estuaries, salmon learn how.  They slowly adapt themselves for what’s ahead.  Then, they journey on towards their lives in the great ocean.

How confusing that place must seem.  

As I consider that journey, I can’t help but think about times of estuary–impossible contradictions–places where life does not feel right.  We’ve left but haven’t arrived.  We see the future but aren’t ready to embrace it.  It’s as if we are left alone to adapt for what’s ahead.  We are becoming something. 

Estuaries, because of their in-between status as both freshwater and saltwater, contain the best nutrients.  Scientists tell me that estuaries are among the most productive habitats in the world.  The swirl of confusion, as wild as the tide, ironically provides refuge and rest for marine life.  They strengthen their ability to adapt and regulate in that estuary.

Life feels like an estuary when I consider the miraculous Christmas claim that I’m meant for another world.  And, by design, I find myself here, becoming something for there

Living with flair means I don’t despair when I’m not at my destination.  I’m osmoregulating in my perfect estuary for what’s ahead.  

(Photo, “Estuary Mouth,” Public Domain, US government.)

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