Sunday, May 07, 2006


If I could be a flower....

This was the topic of the children's sermon at church this morning. The woman had a bouquet, with red roses, baby's breath, cat-tails, and a few leaves. She asked the kids, if they could be anything in the bouquet, what they'd like to be. Most wanted to be roses. One boy, maybe 10 years old, wanted to be "the little white ones, because they're the ones that get overlooked." I gave him a thumbs-up for that.

The woman went on to talk about cat-tails. About how the roots can be dug up, cooked, and eaten like potatoes. How the young stems can be cooked and eaten like asparagus. How even the "tails," which are actually the flowers, can be dried, ground up, and used like flour, or meal. The Indians even made medicine from it. ("You need medicine when you're sick," volunteered a boy of maybe 4.) About how it's a plant that's useful in all of its parts, unlike the rose, which is just for show, is all pretty, and smells good, but has thorns. ("You could use them for thumbtacks," offered the boy who favored baby's breath.) I thought about the edible petals which have only gone out of common use in the last century, and the vitamin C-rich berries, "rose hips," but this was for the kids, this was the sermonizer's show, plus I didn't want them going out and eating every flower in the garden. I also thought about cat-tails being used for flogging, truly a multi-tasking plant, but I let that pass, too. This was this speaker's message for the kids. Anyway, I don't know how many kids got converted from roses to cat-tails, but my mind kept going back to the baby's breath.

The astute young boy had said they're the ones that get overlooked. I'll bet he's the kid who befriends the new kid in school, sticks up for the class dork, helps the disabled kids without putting them down, and lets the teacher know when some kid didn't get their Weekly Reader. Add on what he said about the rose thorns, and you have a kid who is truly the friend of the underdog... no one's value goes unappreciated. I'd like to know this guy better.

Back to the baby's breath. I looked at the woman's bouquet and thought about what the boy had said, and how he probably lends a hand everywhere, and I thought about this unassuming little flower. Baby's breath. The one that isn't one bit showy but fills in all the gaps. The one that shows up for every occasion. The one that rounds out the whole. The one that makes everything shape up. The one that compensates for any number of deficiencies in the group. The one whose presence sets off all the others to their greatest advantage. The one that supports and enhances the "stars" in their roles. Without drawing any attention to itself, without being gaudy, or flashy, or fragrant, or conspicuous. And yet a mixed bouquet without baby's breath is just missing something. It lends integrity to the whole just by being there, even though it goes overlooked and unnoticed.

I want to be baby's breath.


Deb said...
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Deb said...

Beautiful post Ellie! Don't you just love the little one's?.... unpolluted, speak their minds, have a little of that 'bring it on' in em! Too bad we don't listen to them as often as we should. Sounds like he's my kind of guy too! Have a great week!

Vickie said...

Scientific Name:
Gypsophila paniculata
Common Name:
Baby's breath
Double flowered cultivars are grafted onto single flowered rootstocks, so care must be taken to never cut the plant back below this graft union. Leave baby's breath alone in the garden after it becomes established, because damage to the large, fleshy roots may kill the planting.

Hmm, you want to be baby's breath? Well once she gets going, stay out of her way!

Downhillnut said...

What a great insight, Ellie. I'm tucking this one into my thinker.

*jeanne* said...

What a pretty post.

[But I want more flowers to chose from in my bouquet. Guess I'm a trouble-maker.]


Rachel said...

Boy, you're post made me really miss my garden in St. Louis. It was a perennial, English cottage garden. I just loved it. I love the hardy flowers that come back year after year. I love daffodils and especially crocuses b/c they're the first flowers you see in the spring. They poke up through the snow and give you hope after a long, cold winter.

TxSkatemom said...

what a great sentiment. thanks for sharing that!