God’s Mercy Lasts Forever

CYPRESS VINE Quamoclit pennata

CYPRESS VINE
Quamoclit pennata

By Orrin Morris

Psalm 107 begins, “O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good; for his mercy endureth forever” (KJV). This verse reminds us of God’s mercy. It is not temporary, that is, here today and gone tomorrow. It is applied to all sins, not favoring one infraction over another. It is available to all, not to only one nation or culture but to all people. God’s grace and mercy is available forever to everyone who will yield to His love and forgiveness.

The wildflower for today is one whose blooming season endures over many months, even until today.

Another name for the cypress vine is the humming bird vine. I like that name because it has became a major attraction for humming birds on my garden fence.

Cypress vine blooms are very similar to the red morning glory, but smaller. The primary difference is the leaves. The cypress vine has a delicate leaf structure that reminds me of miniature palm tree fronds, as illustrated. Technically they are called “even pinnate leaves.”

Cypress vine is a tropical plant imported for commercial distribution. As a very hardy species of the starglories in the Convolvulaceae Family, it soon went wild. This is not a recent phenomenon since one of my resources, copyright 1931, documents this fact (Seymour).

The flowers are scarlet red stars with a 1 1/2 inch tube, proportionately long for most similar shaped blooms, such as trumpet vine, yellow Jessamine, and dame’s rocket.

The vines are thin and twining. They may be as long as 15 feet or ascend to that height if an appropriate host is available. The preferred habitat is waste places where they may bloom from July to October. If you find one of these plants don’t try to cultivate it. It likes to be left alone, and when so treated rewards the owner generously.

The seeds may be taken to start a new vine but don’t make a fuss about it. Cast the seeds at the base of a fence and forget about them. It is highly likely you will have a cluster of vines with beautiful scarlet blooms next summer. However, one word of caution, the cypress vine can become invasive and difficult to eradicate except with a strong herbicide.

Remember again the Psalm, “O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever.”  Mercy is unmerited favor and God offers forgiveness to all who call upon His name. May you express your thankfulness for God’s mercy in a place of worship this Sunday.

Snakeroot highlights on God’s diversity

WHITE SNAKEROOT Eupatorium rugosum

WHITE SNAKEROOT
Eupatorium rugosum

By Orrin Morris

Some of us find joy by taking time from our busy lives to observe the fascinating creation God has provided. From the wildflower for today we can observe the great diversity of God’s creation and how we are enriched by that. Diversity as a given in nature should lead us to recognize that the diversity of cultures is God’s way of enriching our lives socially, also.

White snakeroot fits the “sinister” image of the season around Halloween. Imagine the reactions of a group of young children approaching a door around which hangs a large glowing white snake. That would definitely be a spooky scene!

There is much more to consider about this wildflower. Not only does it have a sinister name, but it is highly toxic when one drinks milk from cows that have eaten snakeroot. Cattlemen in the east could not allow their cattle to range as freely as originally done in the west because of this and similar toxic plants. One writer noted that Abraham Lincoln’s mother died from drinking “toxic” milk.

The white snakeroot grows to a height of 3 feet. The stem is stiff and the leaves are opposites. The fuzzy white flowers are small, less that 1/4- inch wide, and appear in relatively flat-topped clusters, as pictured. The leaves are coarse and sharply toothed.

White snakeroot can be found in the woods and thickets from late summer and until frost. The Native Americans used the juice from the root to counteract the poison from snake bites, thus the common name, snakeroot. (Adams and Casstevens)

The extravagant abundance of wildflowers is a mere hint of the abundant grace God desires to pour upon us. “But if God so arrays the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more do so for you? (Matthew 6:30).”

Finally, the delicate beauty of wildflowers is a symbol for us of the beauty God wishes to create in those who practice what Jesus taught when He said “Love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:39).”

Eastern Sweetshrub reminds us to “be still and know”

east

EASTERN SWEETSHRUB Calycanthus floridus

By Orrin Morris

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46:10 ).

Wildflowers are objects of beauty to some and weeds to others. To some of us they are another example of God’s grace. That is, gifts from God that favor us though we do not merit such blessing.  They exalt God’s “in the earth” by their presence.

One of the unique delights we can look forward to in spring is the blooming of the Eastern sweetshrub. It was introduced to our colonial forefathers in 1726 but from what country or region is unclear.

The sweetshrub in my yard blooms for only a week or 10 days, but ooh what pleasure. To me, the flowers are the most redolent of all the spring scents. They waft the fragrance of apple butter cooking in Mama’s kitchen; however, others declare that the scent reminds them of strawberries. If you’ve never been around this unique blossom you’ve missed a treat.

This shrub grows to about 10 feet in wooded areas. Ours is among some pines, but most thrive on hills and stream banks on the edge of hardwood groves. The blooms are deep reddish-brown and measure from 1 1/2 to 2 inches across when fully opened. The dark glossy leaves are opposites and the blooms appear at the axil of each pair of leaves. The chocolate colored branches are smooth.

Two other common names for this shrub are Carolina allspice and sweet Betsy. The Eastern sweetshrub needs moist soil, so like most plants, they don’t do well during extended dry spells.

If you miss seeing and smelling the sweetshrub in our local area this spring, may I suggest you take a trip into North Georgia in June and watch for the shrubs along stream banks. One of the sure places to go is Amicalola Falls State Park above Dahlonega toward Ellijay, Ga.

Eastern sweetshrub can be found from New York and Massachusetts to Florida and westward to Louisiana and Missouri.  Wherever found, they remind us to be still and remember that God is exalted above all.

Rev. Orrin Morris is an artist and retired minister.  This article first appeared in The Rockdale Citizen and is reprinted with permission by the author.