Beauty and love can save the world

Published 5:14 pm Thursday, March 23, 2023

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By Chris Adams

I pulled up to my house late earlier this week, and as the headlights of my truck pierced the darkness over my lawn, I saw a beautiful collection of yellow and purple wildflowers. In fact, I had seen them just an hour and a half before. But when the light hit those flowers, I was particularly grateful to have that little pop of beauty in my life.

As I sat there for a few minutes, my thoughts moved from how beautiful the flowers were to the remembrance that they were weeds. In most gardens and lawns, those little flowers are unwelcome guests that need either to be chopped up by a mower or suffocated by roundup.

A master gardener once remarked that weeds are only weeds because we have decided that they are unwelcome amongst our other favored plants and flowers. There’s nothing inherently wrong with those flowering weeds in my front yard. But because they’re considered weeds, and we know we don’t want them in our gardens, they succumb to the impulse to root out weeds with extreme prejudice whenever we find them.

But if I had taken my mower and chopped those flowers down two days ago when I thought my yard was looking a bit ragged, I would have lost the moment I had Wednesday night to reflect on and be thankful for their beauty. Strangely enough, this made me think about spiders in our homes and how, once again, we have been conditioned to rid ourselves of them, to smash them with an iPad if we can’t find a newspaper. And the rationale is much the same as with the wildflowers: we have deemed them unwelcome.

I couldn’t help but begin thinking about my own life. I know that there have been times in my life when I have been made to feel unwelcome. And to my shame, I must admit that countless times I have made others feel unwelcome. But the people who have made me feel unwelcome have lost out on my goodness and beauty and uniqueness. Consequently, I have lost out on getting to know other uniquely beautiful people because I made them feel unwelcome. I wonder how differently the world would look if we weren’t so quick to label things as undesirable. How much more just would the world be if we could take the time to appreciate the beauty in other things before we quickly toss them aside?

We don’t always need a holy book or a preacher to help us learn. Today, the flowers and the spiders are our teachers, for they have their own kind of beauty we miss by destroying them. But by allowing them to exist, to remain, we are then given an opportunity to reflect on our own lives and to hope that others will not be so quick to dismiss us in the future. May your own beauty be seen by others and affirmed as good, beautiful, and holy. May you affirm the beauty and dignity of all you encounter. And in this way, beauty and love can actually save the world.

Chris Adams is the Rector at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Washington.