Hawkweed reveals God’s unforeseen gifts

YELLOW HAWKWEED Hieracium gronovii
Hieracium gronovii

By Orrin Morris

To me, one of the most moving accounts of Jesus is found in Luke 8. A woman who had hemorrhaged for many years was following Him amid a large crowd. She reached out and touched the hem of His garment in hope of being cured. At that moment, her flow stopped.

Several things stir my heart about this scene. First, this was a woman whose condition meant whomever she touched would be “unclean.” Furthermore, she would be prohibited from worship at the Temple until her hemorrhaging ended and a stated period of time passed.

Second, note her desperation and determination. To have gotten close enough to touch Jesus’ cloak, she had to push through an enthusiastic crowd of healthy and strong people, mostly men. After she touched Jesus’ hem, He asked, “Who touched me?” The disciple replied noting the crowd had always been pressing about Him.

Then the woman, knowing she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at His feet. In the presence of the crowd, she told what she had done and why. Obviously the crowd was shocked, but Jesus lovingly said “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace” (Matthew 9:48).

This statement communicated three things: full acceptance when He called her “daughter;” spiritual insight when He said “your faith” has made possible your healing, not His garment; and the benediction of “Go in peace.”

This was a scene where a culturally insignificant person, with an ailment that was a barrier to worship, had caused the “defiling” of many, including Jesus. His response ignored all the cultural baggage of His day, to set her free.

One of my students enjoys reminding me that the wildflowers I draw are “still just weeds.” She’s joking, but there is a truth in how we look at certain situations. To many that day 2,000 years ago, the woman was a “defiling weed” but Jesus saw her as a daughter.

This week’s wildflower, the Yellow Hawkweed, was a puzzle to me for several years. It blooms amid the cat’s ear (Hypochaeris radicata) but its color is a lemon yellow rather than the yellow-orange of its more abundant neighbor.

This wildflower is in the aster family, but unlike asters which bloom in the fall, it begins blooming in the summer. It seems to be light sensitive as daylight gets longer and temperatures rise. All summer the flowers are seen in the mornings but disappear, or close, by noon. As fall draws near, the blooms stay open later.

As with the cat’s ear, one common name is tall dandelion; however, some botanists prefer queendevil as a more common name for this wildflower.

Yellow hawkweed differs from cat’s ear in several important ways besides the shade of yellow. The hawkweed flower petals are less numerous and the ends are boxy and indented, as pictured.

Another distinction for identification is the leaves. Cat’s ear basal leaves are shaped like those of dandelions. The hawkweed leaves are thin and alternate up the stem. Finally, when the seed are borne off by the wind, the sepals turn downward as pictured.

For some gardeners, these plants are cursed weeds and to others they are another example of the gifts of beauty from God. The incident between the woman and Jesus reminds me to keep looking, especially in the mirror, and to ask myself, “Those people whom I regard as bothersome, are they weeds or are they God’s test of my sonship as a child of God?”

Do I share the godly passion as a member of Christ’s work on Earth?

Published by Joe LaGuardia

I am a pastor and author in Vero Beach, Florida, and write on issues related to spirituality, faith, politics, and culture.

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