A Walk on the Weed-filled Greensward

“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice
it. People think pleasing God is all God cares about. But any fool living in
the world can see it always trying to please us back.”  — Alice Walker, The Color Purple

I walk my dog along the wide weed-filled greensward that stretches for several blocks beside the railroad tracks in this small town that calls itself a city. The stretch of green is perfectly straight and about the width of a two-lane neighborhood street. It’s a perfect place to walk a dog, but I have also discovered that it harbors a multitude of nature’s secrets. The things I have seen there take my breath away and I wonder if anyone else notices.

For two months in the spring I followed the progress of a pair of killdeer and their nest of rocks hidden in plain sight among the large gravel next to the tracks. I found the nest and checked it regularly, somehow feeling responsible for protecting it! Four eggs blended in perfectly with the rock-built nest. Then one disappeared and there were three. Two hatched and I was able to see the new hatchlings, which stay in the nest for only a day or two. The third egg never hatched, and much later I broke it to find its yolk unfertilized. The return on investment for the killdeer parents was only 50%!

In the summer there were beautiful tiny flowers that we would classify as weeds because they grow “on their own” and often in places where we do not want them. But in that stretch of green they were free to express themselves, happy to decorate a patch of land that almost nobody notices.

One day I looked down and saw a gorgeous, tiny pink primrose-shaped blossom at my feet. A perfect companion flower was a couple of feet away. I caught my breath and watched for more for several days. Though they were not plentiful, sometimes I was rewarded for my attention.  Later, in the large field across the tracks, appeared a lavish carpet of white primroses.

More recently we were walking in a different direction and passed an empty lot. Here I saw what looked like very tiny purple phlox blossoms on a carpet of foliage that reminded me of princess pine. Again, nature filled in to bring healing and beauty to the most unexpected place!

In the front yard of the two-story house next door, is a towering evergreen, at least five stories high. When I take Willie out to relieve himself in the morning, I look up at that tree. Sometimes I can just make out a bird – and sometimes even two – on the very topmost branch! I think of that as “my tree,” just as I think of our daily walks as a garden where the Spirit of God meets me and shows me God’s creative beauty. We walk together and God is glad when I pay attention to the beauties that seem to be laid out just for me!

“This is my Father’s world
And to my listening ears,
All nature sings and around me rings
 The music of the spheres.”

“This is my Father’s world.
He shines in all that’s fair.
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass,
He speaks to me everywhere.”  –Maltbie Babcock


© 2013


About Nancy Smith

Nancy Smith has 20 years’ experience in technical writing and management in software companies. She also has more than 20 years in Christian ministry as an educator, course designer, retreat leader, spiritual director, pastor, and coach. A United Methodist Deacon, Smith has her M.Div. from Boston University. She is a graduate of the Guild for Spiritual Guidance, and is certified in Spiritual Direction and Retreat Leadership from Boston College.
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