Stop and smell the mustard

BLACK MUSTARD Brassica nigra
Brassica nigra

By Orrin Morris

Too often we are in such a rush to either make money or spend money that we do not take time to enjoy wildflowers. Proverbs 28:20 reminds us to evaluate anew the order of our priorities. “A faithful man will abound with blessings, but he who makes haste to be rich will not go unpunished.”

Often that punishment is self-inflicted by anxiety or over-indulgence.

The wildflower for today I call a roadside wildflower. It thrives in some of the most barren habitats. It reminds us that God is present even though the circumstances of our life that cause us to feel neglected, rejected and left to survive in a barren place.

Several years ago, as a very large mall was being developed, I stopped on the side of the partly developed street. I got out and walked along the recently graded shoulder where there were three specimens of this wildflower. These plants were only 18 inches tall, but as I researched the species I learned some may grow to 6 feet or more.

At first glance, the black mustard appears to have both yellow and white blooms but this is not so. The yellow flowers bleach in the sun and as they die they turn a translucent white, somewhat like wet tissue paper. The flowers measure less than 1 inch in diameter with four petals that rarely overlap.

The leaves along the lower part of the stem are deeply lobed, as pictured. The seed pods mature along the stem within a week or so after the bloom falls.

Black mustard is an immigrant from Europe. The young leaves were cooked and eaten as greens. The seeds were crushed for the distinctively flavored oil, used as a seasoning.

Several varieties of the mustard family have been developed for modern gardens, including broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi, and turnips.

A close relative, bitter cress (Cardamine parviflora), is among the earliest spring blooms.

There are many wildflowers that bloom spring, summer and fall and we deprive ourselves of the calming assurance of God’s abundant blessings when we ignore them. Many flowers are so small that we have to kneel to really see them.

If God is so generous with the flowers of nature, think of how much more eager He is to abundantly bless us, His highest creation.  May you discover that peace as you worship God this Lord’s Day.

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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